White defends South African Montpellier

2016-06-17 18:03
Jake White (Gallo Images)

Rennes - Montpellier coach Jake White blamed French players' reluctance to join his team for the Top 14 side's huge South African influence.

Ahead of Saturday's Top 14 semi-final against Toulon, White, who guided South Africa to Rugby World Cup glory in France nine years ago, has been criticised for over-reliance on his 13 compatriots in the Montpellier squad.

But the 52-year-old coach says it's not his fault he's relied on foreign imports, but moreover that of home grown players rejecting his advances.

"I can understand that people ask questions. I asked about 30 top French players to come to Montpellier," said White.

"I said: 'You can have whatever you want'. And those players didn't want to come because we don't win.

"Obviously I can't give their names but all the replies were the same: 'Jake, I know there's a good atmosphere at Montpellier, a good project and ambitions. But Montpellier have never won anything. If Montpellier win something, maybe I'll come next year'."

Montpellier won the European Challenge Cup - their first ever major trophy - in May and are now two matches from claiming a first Top 14 title.

White's Montpellier play a brutal style of rugby based around the forward power of his South African contingent.

But White insisted he would be able to recreate the same success even without his countrymen.

"I'll give you an example: I think that (France No 8) Louis Picamoles (of Toulouse) would be fantastic in our team.

"He lives in Sete, his family live in (nearby) Sete but he hasn't come to us.

"A guy like (Toulouse centre) Gael Fickou would be fantastic. He was offered to Montpellier years ago and Montpellier apparently said no they don't want him.

"What I can control is that I can get those players that I can understand so that's why I'm comfortable bringing them.

"They play the way I want them to play and they're very good for the Top 14.

"They grow up with the same pressure in South Africa, if you don't play well you have no job, if you don't take your chance another player takes your chance.

"And all the qualities we have is the ones that I really push, and I think it's good for the other players in the team."

Read more on:    montpellier  |  top 14  |  jake white  |  rugby

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