Wednesday, December 6, 2023

This understudy of the XV of France, stronger than Antoine Dupont against South Africa, is the future of the Blues

His performance is superior to that of all South African players (or almost). However, it was with his head down that he returned to the locker room. Peato Mauvaka delivered a major performance during the quarter-final of the French XV against the reigning world champions. Despite the cruel defeat of the Blues (28-29), the hooker panicked the counters since his statistics at the end of the match were simply well above the norm for this position.

If he is usually confined to shadow tasks, between tackles and clearances, Peato Mauvaka has done much more than that. Number 2 was more active than almost all of his opponents, than Damian Penaud or even Antoine Dupont in certain sectors. For his first World Cup quarter-final, he amazed with his power, his mobility and his constant progress throughout the match, punctuated by a try at the end of the line (22e).

The numbers say it all: 77 meters covered with ball in hand is (very) rare for a hooker. This is the second highest total of the match, behind South African winger Cheslin Kolbe (126), and ahead of Damian Penaud (75). Mauvaka also made 11 races, ball in hand, during which he advanced each time, even breaking five tackles.

He particularly distinguished himself by running 40m at the start of the match (7e), while receiving a kick from Antoine Dupont (11e), at the conclusion of a penalty quickly played by this same Dupont (22e), taking over from Charles Ollivon on a French offensive after returning from the locker room (42e), or by causing a penalty (55e) and an en-avant (57e) South Africans. And he was imperial in the area which is primarily his, the touch: 12/12 in throwing. Five tackles also to his credit. Perfect copy until its release (64e).

Initially planned as Julien Marchand’s understudy for the World Cup, the New Caledonian by birth was finally propelled as a starter due to the injury of his teammate, who suffered a hamstring injury during the opening match against New Zealand . For his first participation at this level, Peato Mauvaka responded and confirmed the hopes placed in him. There was not even the shadow of a doubt about the new hierarchy with Pierre Bourgarit (3rd French hooker), as his performances were essential for the Blues.

“Sad and disgusted” after the elimination, the French international did not hide his satisfaction at having been selected by Fabien Galthié. “It was huge for me,” he confided, without regrets on a personal level: “I did everything necessary. I gave it my all.” The latest figures speak for themselves. He now embodies the generation that could be in charge of the French XV during the 2027 World Cup in Australia. He will then be 30 years old.


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