Atonio battles through fitness work

Date published: July 8 2015

Uini Atonio has revealed that France's World Cup preparation is already taking its toll as they look to be hit peak form.

The giant tighthead is part of the 36-man squad that started training this week in Marcoussis as les Bleus try to put a disappointing four years behind them.

The focus so far has been on fitness, with Atonio quick to admit that he's going to endure a tough few weeks with a training camp in the Alps in Tignes next on the agenda.

"It started strong on Monday. The coaching staff weren't lying," he told Rugbyrama.

"We're going to suffer together. I expect to suffer right through to the training camp in Tignes. But I've already accepted the fact I'm going to have a tough time. 

"Usually I sleep a lot but here I'm struggling to sleep. And when you don't sleep, it's harder the next day. But I hope it will pay off. I don't want to hear that I'm too fat.

"I don't really like the preparation but you have to do it to improve, otherwise all the other teams will be ahead of us. But I would never have expected to spend as much time in the gym, I prefer running with the ball.

"It's true that the coaches have been bringing me on when everyone is tired to try to carry the team forward. I like that, and it's a source of pride to be in the 23. I'm here to run into guys and it doesn't matter if I only play 20 minutes.

"The coaches want me to move a bit more to be more effective in rucks, which I'm not too keen on. I like to play with the ball, but I understand that I would have to be up to it in the scrum, ruck and tackling. I want the coaches to say I'm a real rugby player."