Sione Kalamafoni, the new big ‘8’ for RC Vannes

Sione Kalamafoni, the new big ‘8’ for RC Vannes

Pro D2 (11th day). Van-Again, this Friday (7pm)

RC Van’s coach, Jean-Noel Spitzer, likes to attract established names at the end of their careers to mentor young players and bring experience that Breton’s only professional club may lack. After England’s Nick Abendanon (2020-23) and New Zealand’s world champion John Afua last season, Tongan Sioni Kalamavuni is preparing to play his first minutes in Larabeen. “I have already attended several matches. The atmosphere is typical of French stadiums, with the music and the crowd making a lot of noise.

‘Very big injury’

His story with Van got off to a bad start, since the impressive third grader (1.96m, 120kg) injured his Achilles tendon last March, after signing for one season with the Morbihan club. “A very big injury for a player of his age and size. “He has to digest it and find some rhythm,” warned Spitzer when he announced his resumption with the Van group at the end of October. After surgery and “six months of intense work,” the elite player played the first twenty Minute in his new colors last Thursday in Colomiers. “At first I was afraid that my career would be over. But other strikers like me have come back from this type of injury. “Knock on wood, but so far so good, I feel almost 100%.”

The great Tongan ended his international career after winning the World Cup for the third time in 2019 in Japan. He was chosen man of the match during his country’s historic victory over France, during the group stage of the 2011 edition, which was held in New Zealand. He trained on his home island, and began his professional career in England in 2010 in Nottingham (Second Division), before meeting Tom Palmer in Gloucester (Premier League). It was the former RC Van striker’s coach who saw the right move last season, when Sione Kalamavoni was nearing the end of his contract with Welsh County Scarlets.

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“One of the best “8” in Europe”

“I always wanted to play in France and I jumped at this opportunity. I hope to stay there as long as possible,” declared the player who arrived this summer with his wife and children in the city of Finetti, where he found “the same weather as in Wales” (laughs). His arrival in the team gives More progress for Van’s well-equipped third line (Gorrisen, Edwards, Piedmonte). “He was one of the eight best players in Europe,” confirms Jean-Noel Spitzer. He is a great ball-carrier, with a good technical background. Last season, he was No. 1 in Contact statistics in the URC (United Rugby Championship, which brings together the Welsh, Irish, Italian, Scottish and South African provinces) La Rabin just wants to see it in action.

Van XV vs. Agen

Bordelai, Leyva, Tavelli – Marx, Preller – Piedimonte, Bazin, Edwards (cap) – Le Bel (c), Ortolan (s) – Camus, Villasica, Arati, Bastardi – Dublin. Subs: Blanchard, Berget, Payne, Kalamavoni, Boullier, Nicolas, Lavaggi, Kitty.

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