Gasnier to play in France next week - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gasnier to play in France next week

By Mark Oakley 19/09/2008 05:50:46 PM Comments (0)

Former rugby league star Mark Gasnier will have to wait another week before he makes his rugby union debut with French leaders Stade Francais.

The former St George Illawarra centre arrived in Paris on Monday to begin his new rugby career under former Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie at Stade but won't play this Saturday against Brive.

Gasnier however is expected to make his debut next Friday against Bourgoin.

"I admit the presence of Ewen (McKenzie) at the head of the team was one of the determining factors in my decision to come and play in Paris," Gasnier said.

"It's important for me to have an Australian coach."

Gasnier joins Stade at a good time with the club four wins from as many games to lead the French Top 14 championship.

Wing Julien Saubade however warned that his side has yet to click into gear.

"We have a lot of things to think about but it's clear we are improving a great deal," he told l'Equipe.

"We are now top of the table with four victories. But we are aware that we are still a long way from the level we want to get to."

McKenzie will have plenty to worry about this week against Brive as he has a decimated front row after injuries to Sylvain Marconnet, Pedro Ledesma of Argentina, and a suspension to fellow prop Rodrigo Roncero, following his red card against Toulon.

David Attoub, who did not train during the week, should start as well as fellow prop Pierre Correia, who was absent from training on Thursday however.

Toulon's new South African recruit, flanker Joe Van Niekerk, is expected to make his debut at home to Bourgoin, while coach Tana Umaga will be absent, having gone back to his native New Zealand for personal reasons.

Perpignan travel to Montpellier on Saturday but a lot of interest has been focused on what happens two days later when star recruit, New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter, will be given a fanfare welcome by the club.

Carter's contract however is not due to start until December 1 with his first match possibly their European Cup fixture against Leicester on December 6.

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