Parisian club Stade are on the hunt for a new centre as they will lose Gael Fickou to capital city rivals Racing at the end of this season and the soon-to-be 28-year-old Laumape, who has recently featured for the All Blacks under Ian Foster, is now on their radar according to Midi Olympique, the bi-weekly French rugby newspaper.
The Midi report claimed: “Stade have established contacts with the entourage of Ngani Laumape for some time now. “The New Zealand centre, who plays for the Hurricanes, would not be opposed to an experiment in France. On the contrary, anyone with 15 caps for the All Blacks knows he is not a top pick in his country.
“Remember, for the World Cup in Japan in 2019, coach Steve Hansen had chosen him to do the preparation but finally decided to forgo his services just as the official selection was announced. Hansen preferred Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown to him.
“Since then, the Hurricanes player has returned to the selection under new coach Ian Foster. He played two Rugby Championship fixtures in October and November, but he could well choose to join Stade Francais next season. However, another track leads to the Argentinian centre Santiago Chocobares which bears the colours of the Jaguares. The 22-year-old said he was interested.”
Bird, meanwhile, was one of six players said by Racing five months ago to have signed contract extensions, the other players being Finn Russell, Boris Palu, Olivier Klemenczak, Dorian Laborde and Gia Kharaishvili. However, it is now claimed he will instead leave at the end of this season due to personal reasons.
In an in-depth January interview with RugbyPass, Bird said: “I’m currently 29 and would like to think I could play to 36 if not longer. Second rows are kind of special in the sense that guys can play a bit longer. At no stage lately have I thought I’m ready to have a breather or ready to have a change-up. I’m still very, very hungry for it. We’ll keep rolling for as long as we can and then afterwards life is likely to be in New Zealand. I’m toying with a lot of different things.”