Top 14 – Pierre Popelin (Castres): “Playing at the back freed my head where the knots started to form”

Lined up at the back after only being used at the start of this season, Pierre Popelin put in a great performance during his team’s 44-33 victory in Pau. After some less than successful performances in recent weeks, he revealed that the change in position has done him good.

What was the atmosphere like in the Castres dressing room?

There was joy, smiles, because we had a lot of pressure. We are not in a rosy season, we finished the first game in the worst possible way, but it was important to respond as a team. We knew the context would be hostile, but we pulled together and managed to do something.

You return to the locker room with only a six-point difference, have you always had the Section within your reach?

Yes, despite the disastrous start. We went up 14-0 very quickly, but after that we got into the game very quickly and were able to score at home on all of our possessions. When you’re not far into half-time, it smacks of thinking that people in the dressing room across the way might start to have doubts.

Have you been sent back, what was your experience?

Considering my recent performances, it’s very good that Louis (Le Brun, editor’s note) has taken the lead. Julien (Dumora) got injured last week, there were other options for the position than me, but the coaches chose me. The game in the back was good for me, it relaxed my head, where knots had started to form for several weeks. Knots are untied in any case. And the fact that we shared responsibility with him was good for both of us and it was felt in the team.

What do you think of his success on the feet?

We didn’t know who was going to stumble until the warm-up. As I told him, I’m not at a point where I’m sure. The fact that he conceded a wicket to him is a testament to the maturity and confidence in him. I told him I was staying in the shelter in case something bad happened. But I did what was best for the team and gave a goal to Louis, who has confidence from the Racing game where he made a mistake.

What do you think when it’s 14-0 after nine minutes of the game?

It’s hard not to sink in there… Our cohesion is not from yesterday, nor from last week. All those moments we spent together served us well tonight. The game in Perpignan, which we lost at the last moment, the same against Clermont… These games are not very decisive. We’ll enjoy it tonight, it’ll be good to have a holiday with this win, but we’ll be under pressure again with two receptions ahead of us when we go on. It will be a good push because it will be in front of our audience.

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