Toulon president Bernard Lemaître has labelled Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth as a “handicap” to the club as he is “expensive, is regularly injured and is often away on Test duty”.
In a wide-ranging interview with regional newspaper Var-matin, Lemaître explained the issues the club faces in terms of recruitment for the upcoming 2022-23 season and, in the process, took a swipe at Etzebeth and Argentinian Facundo Isa.
Lemaître said Etzebeth and Isa are injured or away on national duty more than they play for the club and demanded that World Rugby implements a law that “prevents foreign countries from coming to the Top 14 supermarket to take the players they need for their selection” or that national unions at least pay compensation to have their Test players released.
“There is a double problem in recruiting: the salary cap and the JIFFs. You can’t do just anything, so I pay special attention to the situation of internationals because they can be an opportunity or a handicap. In this case, players like Eben Etzebeth and Facundo Isa are a clear handicap for the club.
“The policy of the XV of France is very clear and we know that some players like Gros or Villière will be called up regularly. While for foreigners it is different. I spoke with Bernard Laporte who agrees with me: the League should work with World Rugby to prevent foreign countries from coming to the Top 14 supermarket to take the players they need for their selection.
“Or, if they do, there should be some compensation. These players get paid, cost the club full, and are used by someone else. This, even at the level of labour law, does not exist. There is a problem to be resolved.”