Former Junior Springbok captain Jeremy Ward said he is “finding his feet” at Stade Francais, less than a month after arriving in France, ahead of Saturday’s Top 14 match against Brive.
Ward, 26, captained his country’s under-20s team in 2016 before joining the Parisians in September after six years with the Sharks.
The midfielder arrived in Paris after the departure of 14-time champions’ stalwarts Fiji’s Waisea Nayacalevu and ex-New Zealand centre Ngani Laumape.
“The pink shirts stand out the most,” Ward said.
“The club has such a rich history, an incredible background, and it’s known all over the world, so when they came calling, I was really excited,” he added.
Ward has teamed up with two former teammates at Stade Jean-Bouin, the home of the outfit founded in 1891.
Ex-Sharks lock JJ van der Mescht arrived last season and scored his third try in two games during last Saturday’s dramatic late win at Pau, while scrumhalf James Hall is in his fourth season after signing his first senior contract with the Southern Kings alongside Ward.
“It’s great to be back with James,” Ward said.
“We were roommates after high school and in South Africa’s under 20s, so we’ve come a long way. This is a fantastic reunion, “He continued.
Brive is ‘fired up.’
Ward has yet to be named to the Springboks’ senior side, and the Grey High School graduate has stated that his focus is on his new team.
“Right now, all my energy is going through Stade Francais, settling in, and playing the rugby that I’m capable of,” he said.
“I can only hope that if I get a good consistent run of games, my form will improve and my ability will take care of the rest,” he added.
Ward will face the 1997 European champions this weekend, who fired coach Jeremy Davidson after two heavy losses and replaced him with lineout specialist Arnaud Mela.
“We expect Brive to be fired up for the game and extremely motivated,” Ward said.
“Changes have the ability to motivate you. They’ll come with all their might; all we can do is prepare for it “He continued.
In other news, Racing 92 will host champions Montpellier just days after flyhalf Finn Russell was left out of Scotland’s autumn Test squad.
Toulouse hosts La Rochelle on Sunday in a rematch of the domestic and European finals from 2021.
Fly-half for France After suffering an ankle injury in mid-September, Romain Ntamack has returned to training for the record 21-time champions, which is good news for Les Bleus head coach Fabien Galthie ahead of next month’s Tests.
Fixtures (SA times) (SA times)
Racing 92 vs. Montpellier (15:00), Lyon vs. Pau, Bayonne vs. Perpignan, Toulon vs. Castres, Stade Francais vs. Brive (all at 17:00), Clermont vs. Bordeaux-Begles (all at 17:00). (21:05)
La Rochelle vs. Toulouse (21:05)