Emmanuel Maefou, the powerful second row of Australian origin recently naturalized French, will make his debut with the French XV on Sunday (4 p.m.). After long months of waiting. Questioned this Wednesday at a press conference, William Servat, the coach of the French forwards, spoke of the “phenomenon” he had experienced at Stade Toulousain. “Manny in a group is, first of all, a joy of life and a permanent smile,” he confided.

Before returning to this “extraordinary physical potential with 145 kilos of great capacity”. “He was predestined to join us and he had the will to join us. He could have played for another nation for the last World Cup (Australia of Eddie Jones, Editor’s note) but he showed his will and his attachment to the France team. Making this choice is a strong choice, which speaks to me and which can also reflect on the whole group,” insisted Servat.

The former international hooker also recalled that he knew Meafou at Stade Toulousain, where the latter broke through and completed all the stages up to the XV of France. “I had already worked with him in his early days at Stade Toulousain and, even while training him, I did not initially imagine that he had this potential. When he arrived in France, he weighed 180 kilos. He is someone who has worked a lot and worked hard to get to where he is today. We have been working on almost systematic videos of his matches for 20 months to try to make him aware of his potential and his ability.

The “stripping” of the colossus was important in Toulouse, “as for any player with colossal physical means but who started rugby very late,” continues Servat. And added: “Before arriving in France, I believe he was a mason. He took a liking to training with great players at Stade Toulousain like Jerome Kaino or Iosefa Tekori. He had to realize what he could be experiencing and put his thoughts into action.”

Since then, Emmanuel Meafou has become essential for the Rouge et Noir, stringing together top performances and causing enormous damage, particularly on carried balls, whether offensive or defensive. “There aren’t many second lines who manage to string matches together, playing almost 80 minutes each time. He has made enormous progress on his collision heights, both offensive and defensive, underlines William Servat. But tomorrow he will not yet be at the fullness of what he can do. He is someone who has already evolved a lot but who can still evolve a lot and become even greater than what he already is today. For the happiness of the XV of France who had been waiting for it for a long time.