Package for the first two matches of the VI Nations Tournament against Italy and Ireland, the center of Racing and Blues Virimi Vakatawa will return as a starter to face England on Saturday (5.45 p.m.) at Twickenham. Considered one of the best players in the world at his post, the international with 27 selections confides in RMC Sport.
What is your best memory of these last months with the France team?
There are quite a few. But for me it’s still the game we won against Wales in Cardiff last year (27-23 win, February 22 at the Millennium Stadium). If you want to be world champions, you have to beat the best and know how to win such away matches. Now we all want to win titles. We don’t practice just to play. I trust this group. I want to win titles with my Racing club but also with the France team.
In fact, you extended your contract at Racing last November until 2023. Was it an easy choice?
No, it was not easy. At the beginning, I had the idea to change since I’ve been playing Racing for years. I have had discussions with other clubs in France and England. It was not an easy decision, although Racing will always be in my heart. This is where I started my professional career. I took the time to reflect, discuss it with several relatives and finally I chose to stay. And I think it was the right decision to stay two more years, until 2023. To play a World Cup in France, in front of our audience, it’s beautiful, and it played in my decision rather than leaving abroad.
Do you measure how far you’ve come since your international debut in 2016?
Yes, time has passed very quickly since this first selection. I try to take advantage of it, but I’m still the same.
On the other hand, the way others look at you has changed a lot …
I appreciated messages from people who told me I was the best or who gave me compliments. For me, the most important thing is the team. You can’t play alone. It’s thanks to everyone’s work that I play good matches.
Your partners are also all very complimentary, some have compared you to a magician …
I don’t know if I’m a magician (laughs). Everyone does their job in the field. I know my strengths and use them to try and create spaces or offsets for others to score tries. It’s my job. I know what I’m capable of, but it’s easier to play alongside players like Teddy Thomas who go 10,000 an hour. They must be put in good conditions.
Would you rather score a try or have it scored?
Before, when I was a winger, I preferred to score tries. Now I am more of a creator than a finisher. It must also come with age.
Is the 2023 World Cup still the ultimate goal?
Yes, this is the dream. It is the objective. We all want to lift the World Cup in 2023. It’s a daily motivation. We want to be part of this group for 2023.
“I play good games and I take it, but I didn’t win anything”
Many observers believe that you are arguably the best player in the world at your job. What do you think?
A lot of people ask themselves this question. As I said, I appreciated the compliments of the supporters or the journalists. But me, I have not yet won a title with my club or with the France team. I play good games and I take it, but I didn’t win anything. When it does, I can tell myself that I’m proud of myself. The best are those who win trophies.
Who do you think is the best today?
It’s Semi Radradra, whom I know well. He is the best center in the world. He’s a good guy and a very good player. The best.
And which players have marked you in the past?
I am a fan of Australia. When I was little, it was my favorite team. I really liked the back Matthew Burke (81 caps from 1991 to 2004) but also George Gregan (scrum half to 139 caps) and Stephen Larkham (opener for 102 caps). They impressed me a lot.
Have you met them?
I ran into George Gregan at a World Rugby party and Stephen Larkham as a Munster coach. I told them I was a fan of them. (Big smile) They were laughing. But really, it was Matthew Burke that I loved when I was little in Fiji. I hope I will meet him one day.