Australian giant Emmanuel Meafou could play for France at this year’s Rugby World Cup after knocking back overtures from Wallabies coach Eddie Jones.
The New Zealand-born, Australian-raised lock stands 202cm and tips the scales at a whopping 145kg but was unable to gain a professional contract Down Under.
Like Ireland’s Mack Hansen, the 24-year-old shapes as another massive ‘one that got away’ after being developed into a bona fide star by French powerhouse Toulouse.
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Meafou – who played in the National Rugby Championship and Shute Shield before moving to France in 2018 – will definitely become eligible to play for Les Bleus in 2024.
But the UK’s The Telegraph reported that the French Rugby Federation were so keen on Meafou that they were preparing paperwork they believed would prove his eligibility in time for their home World Cup, which kicks off in September.
“I would love to play for France,” said Meafou, who also dabbled in the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program before committing to Toulouse.
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“There’s a lot of paperwork being done in the background but, as of now, I’m not eligible for France for the World Cup.
“I definitely will be eligible for 2024, for the Six Nations, but not right now.”
One of Jones’ first moves in his second stint as Wallabies coach was to put in a call to the Will Skelton-esque Meafou.
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The horse had bolted.
“I had a good chat with Eddie,” Meafou said.
“I told him that I had made a commitment to France, this is home now. I’ve been here for almost five years, so I’m committed to France whether I play in the World Cup or not.
“All the best to Australia, I’ll always call Australia home because that’s where I grew up but for rugby and what I want to give back to France, I’d like to represent them on the big stage.”
Jones gave his own version of events after naming his first Wallabies squad that will assemble on the Gold Coast for a camp on Sunday.
“He’s a good young boy from the western suburbs of Sydney,” Jones said.
“He’s decided he wants to play for France. I’ve had a bit of a discussion with him.
“I only want players who want to play for Australia.
“If he’s made a decision to play for France, which he has, then I wish him all the best and I hope he has a great career. Do I wish he selected Australia? Not really. I can’t control that. So, yeah, there’s not that much of a story there for you mate.”
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