Tuesday 20 February 2018

Peter Bills: Toulon and Contepomi battling on two fronts

Felipe Contepomi is not treating Connacht lightly, says Peter Bills

He's been away from Dublin the better part of a year and he doesn't regret his decision to leave. As he jokes, after six years, he was nearly becoming Irish.

Felipe Contepomi's life now is among the flowering mimosa and lilac of the south of France. At Toulon, the French naval port beside the Mediterranean, he has been able to sit out in the sunshine for the last six weeks. But old habits and standards of Irish rugby men and teams die hard for the Argentine who had such a profound effect on rugby at Leinster.

It has been a strange year for Contepomi, who is now 32. It was his decision to leave Leinster but no sooner had he made it, than he wrecked the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and couldn't play any rugby for six months. Even when he began to recover, he found it difficult because French clubs like Toulon have no second teams. So he had to build his match fitness whilst playing cameo roles for the first XV in the Top 14, no easy task that.

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