Cape Town - Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud is excited to be back in the French fold after a two-year absence from international rugby.
Bastareaud, who famously claimed to have been beaten
up after a Test in Wellington when touring with France in 2009, will
possibly play against the All Blacks in Saturday's Test after a two-year
absence from international rugby.
Bastareaud later confessed that he had fallen over a table in his room.
He last played for France in the 62-13 humiliation they suffered at
the All Blacks' hands in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff in 2015.
Since then he has become the Toulon captain in French club rugby.
He told L'Equipe that he was excited to be back in training with the
France squad, there were a lot of young players in the squad and they
brought a lot of enthusiasm.
"It reminds me of when I arrived," he said.
Flying from Toulon to Paris to join the side the 29-year-old centre
and his 21-year-old club team-mate Anthony Belleau were equally nervous.
"I'm not as old as Vincent Clerc but I enjoy being here. I have more
years behind me than in front of me in rugby terms so I intend to be
enthusiastic and take my chances," he said.
Bastareaud said he had never given up hope of playing for France again and the thought occupied 'a corner of my head'.
"I have always been honest about my performance and my level of play.
I did not see myself getting back if I wasn't up to the expectations of
the coaching staff. Not being selected seemed logical to me but at the
same time it stung me because I am a competitor. I want to play at the
highest level and the highest is playing for France," he said.
After being dropped Bastareaud said he took a step back and looked at
life in general. He was forced to think about himself and the way he
was doing things.
"That was because there is not only rugby, there is family, friends,
meetings we have. I had to put things in perspective. It took a long
time, but I'm on the right track," he said.
But regaining a place in the France squad was not an end in itself, he wanted it to be more permanent.
He had worked hard with good players around in Toulon. He had a lot
more freedom in his game there and in a style of play that suited him he
was encouraged to try things which suited his age and experience in the
He was prepared to take whatever chance he was given, whether that
was Saturday's Test match or the French Barbarians game next week.
"Wherever I play it is already very good for me," he said.