French selectors look to foreign legion
September 22, 2014
Rory Kockott knocked in three conversions and two penalties as Castres earned their first win of the season against Basques Bayonne, Castres v Bayonne, Pierre Antoine stadium, Castres, France, August 30, 2014
Rory Kockott - Included after impressive performances © Getty Images

The ongoing debate about international qualification rumbles on with the inclusion of hulking New Zealand-born prop Uini Atonio and South African half-back Rory Kockott in France's 30-man squad for the November Tests. Both players have completed three-year residential clauses to become eligible.

Timaru-born Uini, 24, has played three seasons at second division club La Rochelle while former Sharks No.9 Kockott has stood out for Top 14 club Castres. They are among five uncapped players in the squad.

Atonio attended Wesley College south of Auckland and represented Samoa at under-20 level. He joined Counties Manukau for two seasons before leaving for France.

Unusually tall for a prop at a height of 1.96m, he is also one of the heaviest players in the French game. His weight ranges from 140kg to 155kg in various website player profiles.

Kockett said he had been aiming for selection since he arrived from South Africa in 2011. "In everything I've done every season, it was a goal I was aiming for and that's why I gave my best ."

In a column headed "Strangers in Blue", Le Figaro noted that selectors had included "ten foreign players in his initial list of 74 players" raising fears the side would be packed with imports. "They have fortunately did not dare go that far."

France squad

Forwards: Xavier Chiocci (Toulon), Alexandre Menini (Toulon), Guilhem Guirado (Toulon), Benajmin Kayser (Clermont), Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Nicolas Mas (Montpellier), Rabah Slimani (Stade Français), Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Français), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Papé (Stade Français), Romain Taofifenua (Toulon), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Bernard Le Roux (Racing), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Charles Ollivon (Bayonne).

Backs: Rory Kockott (Castres), Sébastien Tillous-Borde (Toulon), Camille Lopez (Clermont), Remi Tales (Castres), François Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Remi Lamerat (Castres), Maxime Mermoz (Toulon), Sofiane Guitoune (Bordeaux-Bègles), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Teddy Thomas (Racing), Benjamin Fall (Montpellier), Brice Dulin (Racing).

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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