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Rugby | European Rugby

Rory Kockott © Gallo Images

International desire driving Kockott out of Castres



Rory Kockott has admitted his yearning for international honours, be they with France or his native South Africa, was behind his desire to leave his current club Castres at the end of the season.

Currently second top scorer in the Top 14, the 26-year-old Kockott joined the three-time French champions as a replacement for Thierry Lacrampe 18 months ago.

He promptly nailed down a starting berth at scrumhalf and is currently the second highest scorer in the top flight league behind Toulon's Jonny Wilkinson, having amassed 207 points in 13 matches.

But a Christmas break back in South Africa for his sister's wedding set the cat among Castres' pigeons, with the scrumhalf suddenly announcing he wanted to move on and French media even suggesting he might not return to France.

But Kockott has returned, turning his immediate focus on Castres' European Cup match against Northampton on Friday, but with his long-term view firmly fixed on a transfer.

Big-spending Racing-Metro, who next season will be managed by current Castres coaching duo Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers, are rumoured to be the favoured destination for the South African.

"I have a decision which is very personal and family-based to take at season's end. I have opportunities and I must think about them. It's a very important moment in my young career," Kockott said.

Having spent five seasons with the Natal Sharks in the Currie Cup competition where he was understudy to Springbok international Ruan Pienaar, Kockott's decision to join Castres was influenced by the strong contingent of Springbok players at the club that include Jannie Bornman, Michael Coetzee, Antonie Classon and Pedrie Wannenburg.

But times have moved on, Kockott argued.

"I'm still very young and I'd like to have an international career. Here (in France) or in my country," he said. "I have three or four years left to achieve that.

"It's a thought I've been having for at least four months. I have to take the best decision for my future.

"It's true that I could maybe have better opportunities. But I say again, I don't understand why they (Castres officials) want to stop me taking a decision that affects me directly."

Kockott maintains that Castres president Michel Dhomps gave him a verbal agreement for his departure, something denied by the latter.

"It's more important than just business. And no one is irreplaceable. My friend Chris Masoe left (for Toulon in the off-season), he was replaced," he said.

"They can say what they like to me, but there's only one solution: I'd like them to let me leave."

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