Spedding feels French support

2014-11-07 07:45
Scott Spedding (Getty Images)

Marcoussis - South African-born fullback Scott Spedding insists he has the support of a nation ahead of his France debut against Fiji on Saturday.

Spedding was one of a number of controversial selections by coach Philippe Saint-Andre, who picked two other South African-born players in flank Bernard Le Roux and replacement scrumhalf Rory Kockott.

That has reignited the debate about foreigners representing France but Spedding, 28, insists he has the support of the fans.

"I've received a huge number of messages since Saturday," said Spedding, referring to when he was called up.

"And not only people from Bayonne but all the clubs, supporters from all over France.

"Players I played with in Brive's junior team. I feel like there is a country behind me, who support me.

"That warms my heart, I thank everyone for that, it motivates me even more."

Both Saint-Andre and Spedding have been taking the row lightly, even joking about the burly back's name.

Saint-Andre said he would call Spedding 'Robert' after some people suggested Scott wasn't a very French name.

"But I've already got a another first name: Leonard. There are already several players who call me that, like Benji (Benjamin) Kayser," joked Spedding.

"Me, I don't care, Leonard, Robert, Scott... Just being here is great."

A week ago it did not look likely that Spedding would be making his France debut at Marseille's Stade Velodrome but an injury to Racing-Metro's Brice Dulin saw him called up last Saturday night, then named as a starter on Wednesday.

"Everything happened very quickly. It's a week that I'll remember my whole life, an incredible week for me," said Spedding.

"It's amazing to wear this jersey. This country has given me a lot and now France is giving me the chance to wear its colours.

"I'll give everything to bring honour to this shirt because I know it's sacred."

Spedding revealed he had come to France with nothing but a rucksack on his back and struggled on low pay while a junior with Brive.

He then broke into the first team and when the 1997 European champions were relegated from the Top 14 in 2012, switched to Bayonne to remain in the top flight.

But he says the six years he's spent in France have helped improve him as a player.

"When I arrived in France I had a lot of faults. But with a lot of hard work and with the coaches I had at Brive and then Bayonne, I've improved," he said.

"I've perhaps got some qualities that come from South Africa but I can say that I was formed in France because I was a long way from being a good player when I arrived here."

Spedding is expecting to be busy defensively against the free-flowing Fijians on Saturday, although he's used to that from playing in the Top 14.

"We all play with Fijians at our clubs (in France). We know what they're capable of - they're athletes," he said.

"We'll have top be solid in defence to avoid being one-on-one with them because that's the worst."


France:15 Scott Spedding, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Alexandre Dumoulin, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Teddy Thomas, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Bernard LeRoux, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Alexandre Ménini

Substitutes: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Uini Atonio, 18 Xavier Chiocci, 19 Alexandre Flanquart, 20 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 21 Charles Ollivon, 22 Rory Kockott, 23 Remi Tales, 24 Mathieu Bastareaud, 25 Maxime Mermoz

15 Metuisela Talebula, 14 Watisoni Votu, 13 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12 Lepani Botia, 11 Alipate Ratini, 10 Jonetani Ralulu, 9 Nikola Matawalu, 8 Masi Matadigo, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Ma'afu

Substitutes: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Isei Colatei, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Malakai Ravulo, 21 Henri Seniloli, 22 Nemani Nadolo, 23 Timoci Nagusa

Read more on:    scott spedding  |  rugby

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