The international fly-half trained at the Section Paloise has established himself this season as the playmaker of Stade Rochelais. Enough to win a ticket for the World Cup?
Still progress. And get out of your comfort zone. Leaving Pau, his training club, and Béarn where he was born in the off-season, Antoine Hastoy wanted to continue his progress and give new impetus to his career at Stade Rochelais. “I wanted a change of scenery, I only knew Pau in the end in my career, I felt it was time to grow up, to play at the top of the tablehe had recognized without language of wood. And the fact that it’s a family club, like in Pau, suits me perfectly and it quickly convinced me.
Accustomed to playing at the bottom of the rankings with the Section Paloise, the one who started rugby at RC Billère ASPTT Lescar (aged six) set himself a serious challenge by joining the reigning European champion club, which also plays first roles in Top 14. At 25, he clearly felt that he had made the rounds of the question in Pau. Last season, he had the second best scorer in the championship (250 points), behind Lyonnais Léo Berdeu, for a total of 760 points scored in six seasons with the Section. His departure has logically made some disappointed: “Honestly, the first week was difficult especially with the supporters. With some in any case who, I know, are not the majority.»
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The whole thing was to know how his adaptation was going to happen in Charente-Maritime, where he was expected to take control of the game and the role of scorer, after the departures of the inconstant Ihaia West (Toulon) and Jules Plisson (Clermont ), which manager Ronan O’Gara no longer wanted. Antoine Hastoy, crowned with a reputation as a talented player in the making, therefore intended, in his new club, to integrate “as quickly as possible», “to melt into what is requested here, bring my qualities“. Adding that “the most important thing will be to get used to the players who are here».
“It’s a complete life change”
Obviously, it’s mission accomplished for the one who has known all the teams of France in the youth category (U16, U18, U19). Express acclimatization to his new club, despite some minor physical glitches (ankle sprain at the end of September). The opening half quickly made his mark and established himself as the playmaker the Maritimes were looking for. His manager is not surprised by his success, as he named him in South West : “It was not me who gave him this place, it was he who won it in training. There is never bad luck in rugby, the best meet the best. Antoine is full of energy. It’s even better than I thought.”
Now, Antoine Hastoy forms a complementary and effective hinge with former All Blacks scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow. To believe that the French opener particularly appreciates the New Zealanders: in Pau, he had made his mark with two Kiwi internationals, openers Colin Slade and Tom Taylor. Before arriving in La Rochelle, the former Palois did not feel “additional pressure“: “I work to be good, regular. The previous years, it smiled on me. I will continue to work with the same intensity. Maybe even more so…»
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The La Rochelle environment is conducive to performance, according to him. “The group is great, they pull themselves up without negativity. It’s not a boat thing, I felt it from the start. He trusts, is demanding, he detailed in South West.A big club, it happens in training, in the structures and the environment, too. Pau is structured in this direction, but I see the difference. For me, it’s a complete life change. »
“I am clearly number 3 at the opener position”
Will his remarkable debut under his new colors allow him to hitch the right wagon for the World Cup which arrives in eight months? The competition is fierce at the opening, behind the essentials Romain Ntamack and Matthieu Jalibert. There is still a ticket to take and it will be played between the Rochelais, Louis Carbonel, also in sight with his new club Montpellier, or Léo Berdeu, decisive with Lyon.
For the time being, the number 10 from La Rochelle has only two selections, during the summer tours in Australia in 2021 then in Japan last year. Did he put himself in danger by changing clubs in a World Cup year? He doesn’t believe it. “In the end, what do I have to lose? For the moment, I am clearly number 3 as an opener in the France team, had he appointed Rugby News. The two in front of me (Ntamack and Jalibert) have taken the lead, we cannot hide it. I think I have nothing to lose by coming to a club that wins titles and wants to play in the finals. For me, I don’t take any risks.“First indications during the upcoming announcement of the group selected for the next Six Nations Tournament.
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