Guy Noves has announced his 30-man training squad for the Six Nations with a clutch of little-known young players. Could these be the stars of the future?
Guy Noves has named his first training squad ahead of next month’s Six Nations, and among the familiar faces are several young players unblooded at Test level. We profile six possible stars of the future.
At 21, the Toulouse flanker is the second youngest member of the group called up by Noves after Camille Chat but it came as no surprise when his name was read out. Camara was born in Aubervillers, a northern suburb of Paris, and he began his career at Massy, also the formative club of Mathieu Bastareaud. His talent was soon spotted by Toulouse and he arrived in the Pink City in 2013, scoring his first senior try in only his fourth match. The following year he was called into the France squad by Philippe Saint-Andre, and though not capped it was another important part of his rugby education. A strong line-out jumper with the pace and hands of a threequarter, the 6ft 4in Camara has bulked up at Toulouse and uses his 17 stone to devastating effect in defence.
Identified back in 2014 by Rugby World as a future Bleu, Poirot has continued to develop under the tutelage of Raphael Ibanez and Joe Worsley at Bordeaux. But it’s the presence of the veteran prop Jean-Baptiste Poux that has shored up the 23-year-old’s set-piece work and turned him into the complete loose-head. At 5ft 11 and 19 stone Poirot shares the same explosive power and ball-winning ability at the breakdown as Eddy Ben Arous. the man with whom he’ll be competing for the No1 jersey. Poirot, whose Nigerian father came to Europe to work in the NHS in England, learned his rugby in the Dordogne and began his professional career with Brive before moving to Bordeaux in 2012.
There was widespread bafflement in France when Jonathan Danty was overlooked by Philippe Saint-Andre for France’s World Cup squad. Outstanding as Stade Francais won their first Top 14 title for eight years, the 23-year-old Danty was voted by Midi Olymipque their top centre of the season. He’s been compared in some quarters to Matheiu Bastareaud but that does Danty a disservice; he’s quicker, has better hands and possesses sharper vision. Plus he’s only 16 and a half stone compared to the 18 and a half stone of the Toulon centre.
With a maternal Italian grandmother, the 23-year-old Jedriaziak attributes his towering 6ft 5in frame to copious plates of his mother’s pasta growing up. But it was his father, Jean-Pierre, who coaxed his son away from basketball and towards rugby, a sport he soon mastered. A natural leader, Jedriaziak captained France U19s and U20s and earned high praise from the coach of the latter. “He’s got the vision and stamina of a back-row forward but with the power of a second-row,” said Fabien Pelous. Jedriaziak made his senior debut for Clermont in the 2013-14 season and has a maturity and humility that befits a practising Christian.
Nicknamed ‘Le Felin’ [‘Chat’ is French for cat], the young Racing hooker has only just turned 20 but already he is being talked of as the next great France hooker. A youth kick-boxing champion, Chat made the most of his chances when Dimitri Szarzewski was away on World Cup duty at the start of the season. With the return of the Szarzewski, Chat is now challenging the veteran for the starting jersey having matured so much in the last few months. At 5ft 10 and 15 and a half stone, Chat is still some years from his physical peak but he is already fearsomely strong and freakishly agile, which makes him a handful in the loose and at the set-piece.
Born in the Paris region, Bezy played representative rugby alongside Jules Plisson in his youth, and one of his most vivid memories is cheering on Biarritz at the Stade de France when they thrashed Toulouse 40-13 in the 2006 Top 14 final. Within a short time his family moved south and Sébastien and his elder brother, Nicolas, joined Toulouse. Nicolas has since moved to Brive but Seb has established himself this season as Toulouse’s first-choice scrum-half ahead of Jean-Marc Doussain. Similar in style to Clermont’s Morgan Parra, Bezy’s goal-kicking has a slick pass, an eye for the smallest of gaps and a reliable goal-kicking boot. Like Parra he’s on the slight side, standing 5ft 7in and weighing 11 1/2 stone, leading him to joke: “I have the size of a Kenyan [runner].”