James ready for rare first

Date published: March 29 2017

European rugby veteran Brock James is looking forward to a rare first in his career on Friday when he runs out for a club game in Scotland.

The 35-year-old La Rochelle fly-half, who has played the majority of his career at Clermont, has never taken part in a game on Scottish soil.

His La Rochelle side are currently flying in the Top 14, leading by 10 points, and they take on Edinburgh in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

“After 11 years of playing in Europe, it will be good to get out there and have a game in Scotland. The large majority of the Edinburgh team are internationals and that means that we know that they have plenty of quality players who will be looking to test us,” said James, speaking to EPC Rugby ahead of the Murrayfield clash.

“They are playing well and had a good pool stage. Because they are playing the game at home there will certainly be a lot of people who will think of them as the favourites.”

However, La Rochelle’s domestic form has been nothing short of superb as they show no signs of faltering, while others behind them stumble.

“We had a bit of a mishap at Gloucester and that really kicked our season into gear after we had good wins against Bayonne and Benetton Treviso. The key to this season – the Top 14 included – has been to take each game as it comes and not to get too far ahead of ourselves,” James said of their season.

“In the Top 14 we have 26 weeks, but in Europe you have get six matches in the pool stage and you know that you’ve only got a few shots at it. That makes the matches a bit more high-pressured.

“It’s important to make the best of every situation and to get out there and give your best, knowing that you might not get another chance. This season, we’ve been pretty good in the set-pieces and in the scrums and with all the big hitters that we have up front, we have been able to make a lot of space out wide.

“At the start of the season we set our goal to qualify for the play-off competition in the Top 14 because the press in France picked us to be relegated at the start of the season. Maybe a little bit but it has certainly allowed us to play without pressure of expectation.

“We have been able to prepare well for each game not looking further than the next match and that has helped us to avoid pressure and get ready for the next week as if it is always the most important.”