Parisse hop­ing to lead Stade out of dol­drums

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PARIS:

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

Ser­gio Parisse

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