Larkham eyes French connection

Toulouse, the French Top 14 club, has made an offer to retiring Wallaby and Brumby, Stephen Larkham. And it is an offer Larkham, who retires from Australian rugby at the end of the year, is seriously considering.

“My French is terrible,” Larkham told Rugbyexclusive.com.

“But hopefully they’ll also speak a bit of English to help me through.”

“The idea of playing for a great club like Toulouse is very attractive and it certainly would be another challenge.”

Toulouse are keen to sign a superstar fly-half to fill the jersey of French pivot Frederic Michalak, who heads for the Sharks in Durban for next year’s Super 14.

Second division French club Toulon have already signed the player synonymous with Larkham’s career, perennial half-back partner, George Gregan.

If Larkham accepts the offer he will step straight into the shoes of Toulouse’s international fly-half Frederik Michalak who has opted to join the Natal Sharks for next year’s Super 14 tournament.

The offer follows on Larkham’s commanding performance in the Brumbies’ victory over the Waratahs

“I’m reasonably happy with the way I played against the Waratahs but there are areas I’d like to improve such as my body height in the cleanout and my defence,” he said.

Although turning 33 next month, Larkham again demonstrated on Sunday that providing he can remain injury free, his on-field presence is crucial for national coach John Connolly who is striving to secure an unprecedented third Rugby World Cup for Australia.

Following a stellar test career which began against Wales in Sydney in 1996, Larkham (95) is poised to become the third Wallaby to pass 100 caps. Only Gregan (127) and David Campese (101) are ahead.

Originally converted from fullback to fly-half by the late Greg Smith on the Wallaby tour of Britain and Ireland in 1996, Larkham was selected in the number ten Test jumper for the first time by Rod Macqueen against England in Brisbane in 1998.

His unique brand of direct running and instinctive passing quickly took him to the summit of international rugby reckoning. This will be his third World Cup campaign.

Although a contract is still to be negotiated, the prospect of one of Australia’s all-time greats in Toulouse colours is sure to excite French fans.

Situated in the southwest of the country, Toulouse is the fastest growing city in France and is Europe’s headquarters for the aerospace industry. Their star-studded rugby team currently lies third in the French Championship behind Stade Francais.

 

365 Digital

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