Wallaby and All Black take centre stage against Toulon
Clermont’s Australia centre Irae Simone said lining up alongside former New Zealand midfielder George Moala for the club is “scary” before they head to Toulon in the Top 14 on Sunday.
Simone, 27, made the last of his three Wallabies appearances in August, leaving the Brumbies for the French outfit this season.
“Having him outside me, he’s a big ball carrier, he’s got such an X-factor,” Simone told AFP on Wednesday.
“Just to play next to him is pretty scary. You go into a match knowing you have someone big next to you gives you a lot of confidence,” he added.
Simone came off the bench in his country’s loss to Argentina last month after making his Test debut in 2020.
“I’m still motivated to play Test rugby,” he said.
“I’m not really trying to focus too much on the international side of things though, my main focus is on Clermont,” he added.
The Auckland-born playmaker came through the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league youth set-up and has signed a two-year deal with Clermont, coached by former All Blacks back-rower Jono Gibbes.
“A lot of people say that you go overseas for the money. The money’s good but in terms of choosing Clermont it was the rugby side of things,” Simone said.
“The experience and the personnel here, who can help me get to the next level.
“Speaking to Jono and the coaching staff made the conversation start from there,” he added.
‘Rough us up’
In central France, Simone has reunited with former Waratahs teammate in former Wallabies under 20s fullback Alex Newsome, who has also agreed a two-year deal at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.
“It was weird because I didn’t know until they announced it that he had signed for Clermont,” Simone said.
“I’ve known Alex for a while, we’ve had a lot of beers together, a few boys trips together.
“Having someone like that overseas makes it a lot easier for me and my family,” he added.
This weekend, in the Top 14’s third round, Simone’s side head to Stade Mayol, the hostile home of three-time European Cup champions Toulon, who include ex-Italy captain Sergio Parisse and France skipper Charles Ollivon in their squad.
“They will try and bully us, rough us up a bit,” Simone said.
“Because it’s an away week, it’s all about us, trying to defend what they throw at us, win those collisions and match that physicality,” he added.
Elsewhere, winless Bordeaux-Begles host last season’s runners up Castres and champions Montpellier head to Brive.
Pau welcome league leaders Toulouse, who will be without Ollivon’s injured Test team-mates Romain Ntamack and Francois Cros, to a sold-out Stade du Hameau.
(All times GMT)
Bordeaux-Begles v Castres (13.00)
Brive v Montpellier (15.00)
Racing 92 v Lyon (15.00)
La Rochelle v Perpignan (15.00)
Stade Francais v Bayonne (15.00)
Pau v Toulouse (19.00)
Toulon v Clermont (19.00)