Clermont captain AurÃ©lien Rougerie has described the club's upcoming season as 'a new beginning'.
Clermont captain AurÃ©lien Rougerie has described the club's upcoming season as 'a new beginning' following the departure of Vern Cotter.
Franck Azema and Jono Gibbes are now in charge, after Clermont finished last season without reaching a major final and lost their astonishing unbeaten record at home in defeat to Castres in the Top 14 semi-final.
“We've come back with plenty of enthusiasm. Everybody is volunteering to do their part,” Rougerie told Rugbyrama.
“At the moment we're working a little bit on our physicality, but also our technique and style of play. There's a new system with lots of new interpretations so we have a lot to learn.
“Overall, we've turned a new page. It's a new beginning.”
There have been a number of departures and arrivals. Regan King, Lee Byrne, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Gerhard Vosloo, Nathan Hines and Elvis Vermeulen are all gone – key figures all for Clermont over recent years.
Coming in though is a wave of fresh blood, in the form of SÃ©bastien Vahaamahina, Jonathan Davies, Zac Guildford, Nick Abendanon and Camille Lopez.
A noticeable drop in age is a factor that Rougerie feels may help the squad in starting afresh.
“I don't know if we needed [lots of changes], but it will certainly bring a lot of freshness. We've said goodbye to those who have have gone and welcomed those who have arrived,” added Rougerie.
“The training camp in Perpignan from Saturday will be the next stage. We'll be in our bubble and it will give us some more time to help integrate the new guys, and the international guys should join us also.”
Entering his 14th season for les Jaunards, Rougerie underlined that he still had plenty left in the tank.
“We're still winners. We will try and get something this year. We haven't set our objectives in stone, but I think they'll be high like every year,” added Rougerie.
“Personally I'm always mentally ready, so as long as the body follows suit, I'll continue to compete.”