Rugby

Claassen to play for France?

2009-09-30 07:44
Wynand Claasen (Gallo Images)
Stephen Nell

Cape Town - He regards France as his “second team” and that is why he won’t mind his son, Antonie, playing for Les Bleus next year.

That was the reaction of former Springbok captain Wynand Claassen to reports from the Northern Hemisphere that French coach Marc Lievremont had taken notice of his son’s good performances for Brive.

“I understand he is highly-rated, but he simply has to continue giving his best,” Claassen senior said about his son.
“France was always my second team. I played there myself for Marmande.”

Lievremont, who previously was not interested by overseas-based players, reportedly said that Antonie Claassen is the only one that interests him.

“I watch all the Top14 (French domestic tournament) games. The only overseas player I like is Antonie Claassen. He has the qualities I look for in a loose forward,” Lievremont said according to an AFP report.

Claassen (24) told Sport24 from France on Tuesday that he had gone to France “blindly” in 2007. He will qualify to play for them in October 2010 after completing 36 months of residence there. He started at Marmande, but went to Brive early in his stay.

“Olivier Magne (a former French international loose forward) was injured and appointed as coach, which meant I could take his place in the team,” said Claassen.

Claassen’s initial decision to go overseas was made because of a lack of progress in his career at the Blue Bulls.

“I never made an impact there,” he said.

That is not the case at Brive and he finds it flattering to have had his name mentioned in public by Lievremont.

“It’s a big honour, but hopefully by this time next year he is still talking about me because I only qualify to play for France in October 2010,” said Claassen.

“We are playing in the Heineken Cup this season. If I can perform at that level, it will do a lot for my confidence. You play against the best from all over Europe and it will be a good test.”

Claassen is at home on the flank or at No 8. He is a strong ball-carrier and has a good work ethic.

“I always give 100%. The French like players that are prepared to work hard,” he said.

“The standard of the Top 14 is good. Any side can beat any other on a given weekend.”

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