Romania were the odd ones out in Pool D at the weekend when they had to sit and watch their four counterparts stretch their legs, but their best foot has been put forward for the meeting with France tomorrow in the form of their most experienced team of all time.
Coach Lynn Howells, a man of the valleys who served as an assistant to Graham Henry with Wales at the 1999 tournament, has selected a team that boasts 700 caps, among them five forwards who ply their trade in France and a full-back from Saracens.
“The back line has pretty much picked itself with the experience they have,” said Howells who also spoke of the explosion in the size of the tournament since his last involvement in ’99.
“The forwards however have given me more of a headache.”
The hope is that they will offer similar discomforts to the French.
Like Georgia, who accounted for Tonga on Saturday, Romania’s tradition leans heavily on muscle and physical prowess in the set-piece and they have claimed three of the last four World Rugby Nations Cups, a tournament introduced to aid the tier two nations.
In total, eight of their squad draw their wages from French clubs, but only three of those do so at Top 14 outfits, namely Oyonnax and Castres.
Loosehead prop Mihaita Lazar is with the latter and he spoke yesterday of the gains to be found abroad.
“Every player in our squad who has gone overseas has improved,” he explained.
“I can adapt quicker to different styles of play.
“The quality and competition over there is a lot greater so will help me in this match particularly.”
Full-back Catalin Fercu plays with Saracens in England.
C Fercu (Saracens); M Lemnaru (RCMUV Timisoara), P Kinkinlau (RCMUV Timisoara), F Vlaicu (CSM Bucaresti), A Apostol (CSM Biaia Mare); D Dumbrava (CSA Steua Bucaresti), F Surugiu (CSM Bucaresti); M Lazar (Castres), O Turashvili (Colomiers), P Ion (Perpignan); V Poparlan (RCMUV Timisoara), J van Heerden (CSM Biaia Mare); V Ursache (Oyonnax), V Lucaci (CSA Steua Bucaresti), M Macovei (Colomiers).
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