Fri 15 Feb 2019 | 09:57

Preview: Bordeaux banking Fiji magic

Preview: Bordeaux banking Fiji magic
Fri 15 Feb 2019 | 09:57
Preview: Bordeaux banking Fiji magic
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TOP 14 SPOTLIGHT: Stand-out Fijian centre Semi Radradra is part of a potentially thrilling midfield combination with ex-All Black Seta Tamanivalu on which Bordeaux-Begles are banking to guide them into a Top 14 play-off spot.

While Radradra, the former Parramatta Eels and once-capped Australian rugby league star, has settled in at Bordeaux following his move from Top14 rivals Toulon, it hasn’t been quite plain sailing for Fiji-born five-times capped All Black Tamanivalu.

Tamanivalu touched down in southwest France in the autumn with a niggling back injury and has started just once in the Top 14, twice coming on as a replacement, whilst also playing two European Challenge Cup games.

On paper, Tamanivalu and Radradra look sure to make a dynamic pairing in midfield once the former properly finds his feet in France, having signed a three-year contract.

Radradra has gone from strength to strength since officially crossing codes, having always had a base in union, playing for the Barbarians before progressing to the Fijian national side and also turning out for the sevens team.

Radradra was part of the Fiji XV that racked up a historic first-ever victory over France in November, creating space with ball in hand and scoring a decisive try in the 21-14 win.

“I told him that I was waiting for to him to be like that with Bordeaux!” said club teammate Baptiste Serin, who played scrumhalf for France that fateful night.

Bordeaux’s veteran Australian flyhalf Brock James, who now also helps coach the club’s backline, added: “From that moment, we’ve see the great Semi Radradra.”

Bordeaux president Laurent Marti was in no doubts about what Radradra brought to the club, who are away to James’ former club Clermont in league action this weekend.

“When you watch his games, you feel he worries the opposing side, he creates doubts,” Marti said.

“He knows how to do everything: he can step a guy within five metres, deliver an inch-perfect 20-metre pass off both hands at full speed and he goes well in defence. He’s the full monty, you feel his power increasing.”

As for Tamanivalu, James said: “Seta is taking a bit more time to get into things, but you can see his quality as a ball carrier and the way he reads defences.

“He’s come from the Crusaders with whom he had a lot of success and he brings with him a professionalism that shows in training. It’s a real bonus for the team.”

He showed that this winter, notably in the 25-17 win over Agen when the ex-All Black, without shining throughout, rushed his defence on one occasion, managing to dislodge the ball from his target.

As it spilled, Tamanivalu gathered and “scored down the short side where there wasn’t any space by steamrolling his opposite number”, said Marti.

“It’s the little extras that mean you score the try that you wouldn’t have scored before.”

Bordeaux currently sit in fifth in the Top 14 and will be keen to call on Radradra and Tamanivalu to help avoid their usual spring-time dip in form that has seen them miss out on qualification for the top six play-off spots every season since their promotion from the ProD2 for the 2011-12 season, their best result being twice seventh.

“We recruited them for that,” acknowledged Marti.

“We had a very good backline, but we had to complement it with players like Semi and Seta, who both have that X-factor that can explode a situation.”

Top14 leaders Toulouse face a tough test of their credentials when they travel to Racing 92 on Sunday, while third-placed La Rochelle are away at Grenoble and Stade Francais entertain fourth-placed Lyon on Saturday.

Fixtures

Saturday

Clermont v Bordeaux-Begles
Stade Francais v Lyon
Pau v Castres
Montpellier v Perpignan
Agen v Toulon

Sunday

Grenoble v La Rochelle
Racing 92 v Toulouse

Agence France-Presse

 

PV: 282


Preview: Bordeaux Banking Fiji Magic - France | Rugby365