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Rugby | International Rugby

Yannick Nyanga © Gallo Images

Fear acts as Nyanga's weapon



Yannick Nyanga sobbing prior to France's 33-6 demolition of Australia last Saturday reflected how much it meant to the flanker to be playing for France again after a five year hiatus.

The Toulouse star said that he was so happy to be back in the French fold and added that he was using the fear of being left out again as a positive weapon in raising his performance so the nightmare scenario does not pan out.

"Even once you are in the France team, you say to yourself 'I don't know how this has happened. Am I going to be able to handle it?' Now I know that I am able to handle it," said Nyanga, who will be looking to get the nod again for this Saturday's game in Lille against their bogey side Argentina.

"But this positive fear is part of what comes with playing at a high level. It is imperative to keep that."

Nyanga, who turns 29 in December, did not disappoint in what was his 26th test for his adoptive country, having been born in Zaire in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, putting up an effective performance till going off with 14 minutes remaining.

Nyanga, who spent five years on the sidelines because of a knee injury in 2009 and falling out of favour with France's coach from 2008 to 2011 the unpredictable Marc Lievremont, refused to support those who had commented his tears were in contrast to the lack of pride shown by the French footballers when they lined up for the national anthem.

"My tears really created a buzz (on social media as well as the regular media) despite myself," he said with a sigh.

"It is a little annoying because my feelings are very personal. I am not ashamed but it is bizarre.

"However, this debate about footballers and rugby players should not have taken place.

"It serves no purpose to stir up these debates, it is ridiculous. It is pointless to make such comparisons, to be divisive.

"It was a personal reaction (the tears). I had worked really hard for something that I was desperate to have: to wear the French shirt.

"And to play with Dimitri Szarzewski and Fred Michalak, with whom I don't play anymore (Michalak is at Toulon after a long spell with Toulouse) and who are guys I like a lot, at the Stade de France, with the 'Marseillaise' (the French national anthem), well then that is a potent mix."

Nyanga, who has won one European Cup and three French titles with Toulouse, said that he never felt bitter while he was out in the cold.

He realised that the competition he was up against was tough as he had to try and displace during the Lievremont years the outstanding trio of the now retired Julien Bonnaire, the Biarritz legend Imanol Harinordoquy and Toulouse and France captain Thierry Dusautoir, whose injury has allowed him back into the squad.

"I watched the France matches not feeling bitter but rather feeling hungry to be back in the squad," he said.

"I was lucky in a funny way as with regards to my position, there were legendary players filling it so therefore you weren't bitter and saying to yourself while you were watching the games: 'But what is he doing there? I am ten times better than him'. No you say to yourself 'I have to really work hard (to get back in)'.

"If you are not in the squad, it is because you don't deserve to be. If you deserve to be in it you will be sooner or later."

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