Frederic Michalak (AP)
London - Frederic Michalak's
career could be summed up by paraphrasing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's lines
from 'There was a little girl': 'When he was good, he was very, very good, but
when he was bad he was horrid'.
Fans who wonder which France
will turn up at a game are often left questioning which side of the country's
up-and-down record point’s scorer they will see.
The statistics present a
convincing argument for crowning him the king of French fly-halves.
He has scored more than 400
points and is poised to become France's leading World Cup points scorer.
Michalak goes into a match against Canada on Thursday just three off Thierry
Lacroix's mark of 124.
He has also proved durable.
Michalak holds the record for the longest playing career of a French
international which is nearing 14 years. He made his debut in November 2001
against South Africa.
His ability to thrill and
then infuriate has driven several coaches to distraction although Bernard
Laporte - who gave Michalak his start at Test level and made him first choice
at the 2003 World Cup - has stuck by him at Toulon. France coach Philippe
Saint-Andre has persisted with him even though many have clamoured for change.
Indeed Michalak has shown
remarkable fighting qualities in rebounding from injury or being dropped.
Saint-Andre's predecessor Marc Lievremont, who was as unpredictable as
Michalak, said he would never play him at fly-half - a few months later he
selected him in that position.
His resilience and his adventurous
spirit - twice he has moved to South Africa to play club rugby and in 2008
became the third Frenchman, Lacroix being one of the other two, to win the
prestigious Currie Cup - has helped him get through the worst of times.
This strength of character
came to him as a child when his mother walked out leaving him with his father
who was a builder. The two forged a strong bond as he took him to work on his
building sites during the summer holidays.
While the Michlalak of today
on the pitch rarely displays his emotions his schooldays was spent making
people laugh, as he admitted to gay monthly magazine 'Tetu' earlier this year.
"I was the naughty one
of the class, I made the others laugh," he revealed in an interview with
guest editor Olivier Rousteing, artistic director of fashion house Balmain who
idolises the flyhalf.
"I was always being
unruly but it was always to provoke a laugh, a comedy act! It was never out of
a lack of respect for a teacher, I always had respect for older people and
Michalak, now happily married
to Cindy and with two children, says with his fame coming at a young age so did
a series of relationships. The way he describes them could also provide an
analogy on his playing career.
"I was always very quick
to jump in," he told the magazine.
"Even a little too fast.
I had a tendency to get immersed in it too quickly, to draw back a little too
late and to place myself in difficult situations with my former girlfriends.
"But it is from these
experiences that we learn things as well."