Proud Kockott fits French bill

2014-10-02 14:09
Rory Kockott (AFP Photo)

Marcoussis - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has laughed off the idea that Rory Kockott would fail to fit into the French fold after a training camp where Castres' South Africa-born scrumhalf made a strong impression.

"The new guys held nothing back, they're happy to be here and have brought some mush-needed zest by creating competition for places," said Saint-Andre, after several new faces were give a run-out at a three day stint at the national training head quarters in Marcoussis.

And Saint-Andre dismissed suggestions that newly-naturalised Kockott, who qualifies to play for France under the long-term residency ruling, would have trouble getting on with his team-mates.

"He leaves it all out there on the pitch, he eats with the other guys and he communicates well," explained Saint-Andre.

"I myself played for France alongside Eric Melville (also of South African origin) and Abdelatif Benazzi (born in Morocco) and it was never any problem."

"Besides, Rory speaks great French, he's even got a Castres accent," he joked.

Kockott, a 28-year-old kicking specialist who has been outstanding for Castres since arriving in 2011, expressed his sense of honour and destiny when pulling on the blue jersey of France.

"It's an honour to wear the 'coq' (French national team badge) and it'll be a great honour to have a number on my back, a number worn by some greats in the game," he said.

"The most important aspect for me is to respect the shirt you wear by thinking of all the great players who wore it before you."

Other new faces at the national squad get-together were New Zealand-born prop Uini Atonio, who plays for La Rochelle, Bayonne No 8 Charles Ollivon and Racing-Metro's lively wing Teddy Thomas.

"We were glad to get together," said Saint-Andre, three months after the team returned from a chastening tour of Australia on the back of three defeats.

"It's good to see the players on form, some of them are raring to go."

"There's a great feeling in the dressing room."

Forwards coach Yannick Bru said the new recruits had made a good first impression but that it was important for everyone to touch base.

"After three months with their clubs you couldn't say they're starting from scratch, and although it may seem mad, sometimes you have to remind people of the basics and remember what our collective aim is," he said.

France hope to keep tabs on up to 70 players before calling up a squad of 30 on October 19, ahead of another three-day training session and Tests against Fiji, on November 8, Australia on the 15th and Argentina on the 22nd.

Read more on:    france  |  philippe saint-andre  |  rory kockott  |  rugby

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