Through Simon galinier
News: Against Brive, you will still have the difficult task of replacing Antoine Dupont, left to rest. Comment are you living this interim?
Baptiste Germain: I live it pretty well. I had a somewhat complicated start to the season, because I didn’t have too much playing time, but, little by little, it comes back, so I’m pretty happy. Last year, I still played a lot of games, so this season it’s not all new to me. I also have to assume the responsibility of starting matches and I apprehend that in a more serene way. It’s going really well with my teammates, so there’s no problem with that and I’m not particularly under pressure. It is even more gratifying to know that there is also the family in the stands. When we start matches, it takes some pressure off, especially since the coaches trust me more to start with number 9 behind my back.
At the moment, we are talking a lot about Antoine Dupont as THE best player in the world. How are you coping with all the hype around her case?
BG: I especially tell myself that I am lucky to be next to a player like that. This is not the case for all the young people of the Top 14 who do not necessarily have the opportunity to compete with boys of this caliber. It’s positive competition, because we always want to show him that we are capable of doing like him, and even, to show him that we can do more. Casually, he helps us a lot. Just looking at it helps us progress. Even though it takes up a lot of space, I stay young, so I don’t put pressure on it. I tell myself that he plays his matches and I, when I have the slightest minute or second on the field, I give everything. Of course, sometimes we have this little trick of saying to ourselves: “Me too, I can do like you” … But it’s really a chance to have him in the club. It is an opportunity for us, the 9, to have such a player by our side, because we learn every day by watching him, but also, he is more and more unifying and speaks to us a little more, because of son experience.
When the internationals come back to the club, we tell ourselves that we are playing with boys who have beaten the best players in the world. It’s still a source of pride.
Did this period of duplicates allow the group to tighten up?
BG: We know that some executives are absent. Tighten up yes, because casually, unconsciously, we do it. There are a lot more young people and the old ones take even more responsibility to take us to the top. I think so, subconsciously, we tighten up, but afterwards, we take the matches as they come, whether there are the internationals or not, that doesn’t change much compared to that.
Does seeing your teammates shine with the XV of France bring a dynamic within the group, even if they are not there?
BG: Of course … We often see, everywhere, that when Toulouse wins, the XV of France wins. We say to ourselves that this is a chance for us, casually. Even if during the doubling-up period, it still remains difficult for a team like ours, because we have a lot of absentees, we are proud to see them beat the best selections in the world. It’s still a source of pride for us. And when the internationals come back to the club, we say to ourselves that we are playing with boys who have beaten the best players in the world. It is beneficial for us young people and for the others who stay here in the club, so it is more a source of pride than any chosen one.
Important deadlines are coming to keep Stade Toulousain at the top. Even without the internationals, we suppose your locker room wants to demonstrate …
BG: We want to prove that we are not dependent on certain players and that we are really a complete group, between us young and old. The goal is really to take the games as they come. Even if these absences also succeed on certain things, on the objective of telling ourselves that we are not dependent on certain players and that we will win the matches without them, even if they are hard and close, like that of be the case against Brive on Saturday. We expect a very difficult game against an ultra combative team, but it’s up to us to answer. We are prepared for it. Moreover, we train with these international players who go away the rest of the time. We watch them on TV when they are in Blue, but they also watch us on weekends.
Even if these are not the most pleasant matches to play, it is meetings like the one on Saturday that will allow me to gain experience and confidence.
The reception of Brive is going to be the first winter game, under difficult weather conditions, shouldn’t that please you as a scrum-half?
BG: It will allow me to get a little closer to the forwards (laughs). More intensive, it’s true that it’s the first winter meeting, especially at 9 p.m., so I think the ball is going to be a bit slippery. In addition, against a team that is leaning on rugby forwards and the occupation-pressure game, it’s going to be a good test for us. We will have plenty of other matches like this one, especially when the European Cup will arrive (in 2 weeks, Editor’s note) and we will have to go to Cardiff or London. It’s a new period that begins, so if we want to start it well, we have to score a victory this weekend.
As a young scrum-half who leans more towards the movement game, is this type of match a challenge in your personal progress?
BG: You have to go through these matches. Last year, when I came into play, it’s true that I had more of an impact-player role, to try to bring speed. Of course, the game at Stade Toulousain is to play rugby and offer travel, but you also have to know how to calm things down when necessary and not to expose yourself too much. It is games like the one on Saturday that will allow me to gain experience and confidence. Even if these are not the most pleasant meetings to play, you have to go through it and I think that any number 9 has experienced this kind of match. This is not a problem, quite the contrary.
Has this article been useful to you? Note that you can follow Actu Rugby in the Mon Actu space. In one click, after registration, you will find all the news of your favorite cities and brands.