OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Uncapped Remy Grosso can bring speed and an eye for a finish to the French backline
LONDON, 20 Sept - Remy Grosso has been called up to the France squad as the replacement for wing Yoann Huget, who has withdrawn from Rugby World Cup 2015 after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in his team's 32-10 victory over Italy on Saturday.
Castres Olympique wing Grosso was named in France's preliminary 50-man squad for the tournament. He is uncapped at test level but played for the French sevens side in June.
The 26-year-old will join the team at their base in Croydon, south London, on Sunday night and is expected to participate in a media conference on Monday.
“It’s every player’s dream come true," said Grosso. "But my thoughts are also with Yoann and I wish him well in these difficult times.”
Coach Philippe Saint-Andre chose Grosso ahead of utility player Remi Lamerat, who took part in the team's summer preparation camp, and the experienced Maxime Medard.
“We wanted a wing and a good finisher, and that’s exactly Remy’s profile," he explained. "We have been following him for a long time and he almost made it on the list of the 36 players this summer. This is a good example of a World Cup adventure, when often uncapped players join the tournament.”
Saint-Andre had already hinted Grosso would be his choice as he waited for confirmation of the extent of Huget’s injury: “When you lose a full wing, a match-winner, you need to replace him with a similar player, with someone able to break through lines.”
While Noa Nakaitaci’s place on the left side of the French attack should be safe, it may be a different story on the right, where Grosso's abilities will put him in contention to secure a place in the starting line-up.
Grosso, 1.88m and 102kg, has been with Castres Olympique for two years but came to the fore last season when he made 16 starts and scored 10 tries in the French Top 14 championship. Fast, tough and a good defender, he brings great spirit and energy to the team.
He will have a difficult task in filling the boots of the experienced Huget, who has been a fixture in the France backline under Saint-Andre.
“It’s really sad for Yoann, who has been one of my stalwart players for four years," the coach said. "He is an exceptional player, with an amazing mindset, and he was in great shape."
After missing out on New Zealand 2011 due to a ban for failing to comply with the whereabouts rules for doping tests, Huget seems destined to be disappointed when it comes to rugby’s greatest competition. The Toulouse player is also likely to miss a large part of next season's Top 14 championship.
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