Michalak ‘inspired’ by SA

French fly-half Frederic Michalak has said he decided to leave Toulouse to play in South Africa in order to test his talents against the top teams in the Super 14.

The 24-year-old announced on Friday that he had agreed to a one-year contract to play for the Sharks starting after the World Cup at the end of the season..

He is currently recovering from a knee operation he underwent in November and is not expected to play again until April after the Six Nations tournament.

After that he will finish the season with Toulouse and join the French World Cup squad if he is fit and, as expected, is selected by coach Bernard Laporte.

Asked what had been the main reasons for his decision to leave Toulouse, his hometown club who he joined as a seven-year-old in 1989, Michalak said he wanted to play against the best teams in the
world in an environment that he enjoyed.

“I really like South Africa. It’s the country of Nelson Mandela and the people there are very welcoming. The country inspires something in me and rugby is the number one sport,” he said.

“I will be able to play against teams from New Zealand and Australia who are the best in the world. It’s just like playing with France every weekend.”

Michalak, capped 42 times for his country and still regarded when fully fit as Laporte’s first choice in the number ten jersey, said that Toulouse had wanted him to stay in France but that he had been determined to live his dreams.

He also said that he had not consulted the French Rugby Federation even though his move means that he will be unavailable for next year’s Six Nations campaign.

But he insisted that he would only play for one year in South Africa and did not rule out a return to Toulouse.

“Playing for France means so much to me and if I hope to play in this year’s World Cup, I also want to play in the next one (In New Zealand in 2011),” he said.

Michalak said he also took inspiration from his English counterpart Jonny Wilkinson’s fine return to action against Scotland in the Six Nations last Saturday.

“He has had four years of injuries to put up with, unlike me. I am pleased for him and I never doubted he would get back to his top level,” he said.

365 Digital

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