Parisse hoping to lead Stade out of doldrums
Sergio Parisse has been a stalwart for Stade Francais, an ever-present since his arrival in Paris in 2005.
But the Italy captain, an inspirational No 8, finds his Stade team floundering this season, 11th in the Top 14, with a new coach in Greg Cooper in place of Gonzalo Quesada and the announced departure of several senior players at season’s end. It is certainly a time of flux for the club based in the shadow of the Parc des Princes at their state-of-the-art Stade Jean-Bouin, with the likes of Rabah Slimani, Hugo Bonneval and Rapahael Lakafia all heading off for pastures new next year.
“I ask myself questions,” Parisse told L’Equipe newspaper when asked whether he was worried for the future of the club. “It’s why I asked to meet (owner) Thomas Savare and his father JeanPierre to better understand the club’s project and get some replies.”
Parisse has always been known as a fierce competitor, notably when winning 121 caps for an Italian national side that has for long times struggled.
“I’m 33 years of age, I’ve extended my contract until 2020, I could say to myself ‘I’ll finish my career quietly’. But it’s not my philosophy. I’m not mediocre, but a competitor, I want to win.
“I want to know what the club’s real ambitions are for the coming years.” Parisse added that he hoped to end his career at Stade-”No one loves this club more than me”, but insisted that there had to be a core of senior players to lead the squad.
“The squad’s been shuffled but it hasn’t exploded, that’s the most important thing,” the Argentinian-born player told L’Equipe. Parisse admitted that the club’s next three games, starting with a home match against Brive today, and followed by Toulouse and Grenoble, would be the “turning point of the season”. “After my neck injury and suspension, I don’t really have the feeling of having started the season. I can’t wait to string a few games together.”
Ex-All Black Cooper, capped seven times by New Zealand and who arrived at Stade at the season’s start as backs coach before being named in the head job for next season, said he was not “panicked” by the loss of senior players from his squad.
“New Zealand lost a few players after the World Cup and have continued to build,” he argued. “I have big respect for the players who’ll leave, but we have to replace good people with the like. “We have a good structure to play rugby, a good environment. We have a strong personality, I’m not in a state of panic.”
Top 14 leaders Clermont, who thumped Stade Francais 46-10 last time out, travel today to Toulouse, who this week signed All Black prop Charlie Faumuina for the start of the next European season.
But Clermont will be without four big names, France internationals Camille Lopez, Damien Chouly, Scott Spedding and Noa Nakaitaci all handed an extra week’s holiday. Prop Aaron Jarvis, winger David Strettle and flanker Julien Bardy are also all out, injured. Second-placed Montpellier are away at Pau while La Rochelle, in third, entertain Grenoble tomorrow. The final game of the weekend pitches Toulon against Racing 92 in a battle for fourth spot. — AFP