USA's Fry driven by desire to impress his Brittany buddies

Well-travelled prop may eventually head home to Major League Rugby but for now he has an added incentive to come out on top against France in Fukuoka.

FUKUOKA, 1 Oct - USA prop Eric Fry has a little extra motivation as he prepares to face Les Bleus on Wednesday – not losing face with his club-mates back in France.

The 32-year-old, above left, plays for RC Vannes in the French second division and knows his team-mates will be watching back in Brittany.

"Going back in three to four weeks, I want to be able to look those guys in the eyes and show them I gave everything and gave France a good run for their money," Fry said.

"It’s a very special game for me. I’ve been in France for the last three years, been immersed in the culture. It’s very exciting to play against the country I’ve been playing in."

Fry, who has also played for Newcastle Falcons in England and Manawatu Turbos in New Zealand, says moving to France was about more than just rugby.

"When I moved I didn't speak any French so that was quite difficult, but part of the reason I wanted to go there was to experience a different culture in rugby and also outside of rugby, and to learn another language.

"Especially in Brittany, they even threw in the Breton language for our lineout calls so there was almost a third language in there. I think I adapted well. I’ve loved it and I think I've found my way. It's made me a much better player."

Fry’s career has taken him on an interesting journey, having started in the States, where he played for the Las Vegas Blackjacks.

"Playing in New Zealand gave me enough credibility to go to England and then I had my agents look in France, and Saint-Nazaire was the only opportunity that showed up. Luckily, Vannes had an injury right when Saint-Nazaire was going bankrupt and the rest is history."

The introduction of Major League Rugby in 2018 has professionalised the club game in North America, and Fry said he could return to play in the competition.

"It’s definitely an option for me. It’d be a great place to go and finish up at home around my family and friends, helping to grow the sport domestically."

Fry said France are "definitely one of the best teams" at the World Cup and predicted "an extreme challenge" for his side, but also suggested they could spring a surprise in Fukuoka – pointing to the struggles of Les Bleus in their 23-21 win over Argentina.

"They’re a great team, but we’re a competitive team, too," Fry said. "If we’re firing, we’ll give them a very competitive match. If they show up like they did in the second half (against Argentina) then they’ll be vulnerable."

RNS fm/sg/icr/bo