Former SA U20 lock Paul Willemse has been called up to the French squad chosen for the opening two rounds of the 2019 Six Nations Championship.
France coach Jacques Brunel named two South Africans in the 31-man squad, Willemse joining 32-Test veteran flanker Bernard le Roux, who joined Racing Metro from Boland in 2009.
— FF Rugby (@FFRugby) January 9, 2019
One of five uncapped players selected, Willemse, 26, qualifies for les bleus having acquired a French passport in November. The former Bulls bruiser left South Africa in 2014 and, after a one-season stay at Grenoble, moved to Montpellier where he has become a mainstay of a powerful tight five.
Willemse was a member of the 2012 Baby Boks team that clinched the Junior World Championship, a feat matched last year by a fellow newcomer to the French squad, Romain Ntamack, son of 46-Test France centre Emile.
The three remaining Test rookies are Thomas Ramos, Dorian Aldegheri and Gregory Alldritt.
France will kick off this year’s Six Nations tournament when they host Wales in Paris on 1 February.
— Staff Writer