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Welsh star puts French club ahead of World Cup dream

TOP 14 PREVIEW: Wales back row forward Ross Moriarty said he chose to be omitted from their preliminary World Cup squad this week to focus on playing for his new club Brive.

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Moriarty, 29, joined the French club last month as injury cover from the Dragons and has signed a deal with the Top 14’s bottom side, and likely candidates for automatic relegation, until 2025.

The World Cup starts in September with Wales facing Australia, Fiji, Georgia and Portugal in the group stages.

Warren Gatland’s side starts their preparation for the tournament later this month and will head to Turkey and Switzerland for training camps in July before three Test matches in August.

“The stage I’m at in my career, in my personal life, with my family and where I want to play my rugby I didn’t think going on a long World Cup camp, being away from the club, where I’ve only just signed, would do me any favours,” Moriarty told AFP on Thursday.

“I want to put my best foot forward with my new club, it’s a brand new start, I think that was the best decision for me.

“Helping my family settle in, getting used to life in France, I thought that was the best option,” he added.

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Moriarty left Rodney Parade in a campaign overshadowed by off-field issues including financial disputes between the country’s rugby union and four professional sides.

“It was pretty rubbish, to be honest with you,” Moriarty said.

“A lot of players were left in a really bad situation with contract negotiations. That was really average and amateur.

“It’s going to be a really tough time for players in Wales, the teams and possibly even the international team for the next couple of seasons,” he added.

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Top-14-Round-24-fixtures

Mercer meeting

In central France, where Moriarty will be joined by his partner and baby daughter this week, he features alongside Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez.

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In 2018, Moriarty, whose father Paul and uncle Richard played for Wales, was sent off for grasping Sanchez’s neck during a Test match.

“It’s the best thing about rugby and sport, you may hate or not like each other on the pitch but you come into the same group, team and it separates the boys from the men, if you can get over things, get on and do what’s best for the team,” Moriarty said.

“We’ve got on great, even though he speaks broken English, we still have a laugh,” he added.

This Saturday, Moriarty will face a familiar foe as his struggling side, eight points adrift with just three games to go, head to Zach Mercer’s Montpellier.

The pair crossed paths on numerous occasions when Moriarty was at Gloucester and the England No.8 at west country rivals Bath.

Next season the 25-year-old Mercer is heading to Moriarty’s old stamping ground and the Welshman believes that Kingsholm fans will welcome his arrival.

“I’m sure the fans will take him in as one of their players after a couple of games and he shows them how good he is,” Moriarty said.

“I’m sure he’ll enjoy the Shed, playing for Gloucester instead of against them for a change,” he added.

Elsewhere in the Top 14 this weekend, Pau can take a step towards safety if they beat Castres while Toulon hosts La Rochelle at Marseille’s Velodrome, with the home side preparing for this month’s Challenge Cup final and the visitors the Champions Cup decider a day later on May 20.

On Sunday, league leaders Toulouse welcome Bordeaux-Begles but are set to be without injured forwards Thibaud Flament and Francois Cros after last weekend’s Champions Cup semi-final loss at Leinster.

Top 14 standings after 23 rounds

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