The Hérault club has recruited, in recent seasons, several big names in world rugby. Who have never managed to take the MHR to a new level.
Is Montpellier the cemetery of planetary stars or the victim of overrated players? For a decade, Aaron Cruden, Dan Carter’s lining in the Blacks, Johan Goosen, the three-quarter South African, the former scrum-half of the Springboks Ruan Pienaar or Rene Ranger, the New Zealand winger, n ‘were just a mess.
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What will happen to Handré Pollard, world champion in 2019 with South Africa? The highest paid player in the Top 14, who is treating a serious knee injury from Pretoria’s side, will have to justify his salary and status once he is restored. Back on a flashy but disappointing recruitment.
René Ranger (2013-2015)
The All Black winger (5 selections) with a neat look landed in Montpellier as the first star before leaving on the sly, in the hollow of his second season. Preceded by a reputation as a big tackler, he scored only seven small tries in 38 matches in all competitions. A first flop.
Aaron Cruden (2017-2019)
Another Black, another failure. The New Zealand opener (50 selections, world champion in 2011), arrives in the Hérault to forget François Trinh-Duc, who left a year earlier. Repeated injuries, difficult integration, style poorly suited to the strong South African component of the workforce: despite 47 matches and 144 points scored, his contribution was insufficient and the three-year contract was shortened in the fall of 2019. The number 10 returned to the country, then to Japan.
Ruan Pienaar (2017-2019)
The 2007 Springbok world champion (88 caps) perhaps best symbolizes the disenchantment between the MHR and its foreign stars. A surgical-style scrum-half, he is considered to be the major culprit for the failure in the Top 14 final against Castres in 2018 … a week after delivering a major performance in the semi-final against Lyon. Gradually sidelined from the workforce after a resounding defeat to Perpignan at home in February 2019, he will leave Montpellier by the back door during his second season.
Johan Goosen (since 2018)
The 28-year-old three-quarter South African got lost on the rise. After an incredible start for Racing 92 in the fall of 2016, the best player in the championship has languished in his native country until 2018. Since his arrival at MHR, he has had a series of injuries, poor performances and disappointments. Goosen, who has only played 29 games in two and a half years, is just a shadow of himself. “I made some bad decisions,” recently admitted the former international at the end of his contract.
Alex Lozowski (since 2020)
The England international, on loan from the Saracens for one season, is considered the flagship rookie of the summer. But despite Pollard’s long unavailability, Lozowski played little. At the opening, coach Xavier Garbajosa prefers international back Anthony Bouthier or the young revelation Louis Foursans-Bourdette (18). His stay in the Hérault, which is reminiscent of that of so many predecessors, does not seem likely to last forever. His two recent appearances against Bordeaux-Bègles and against Leinster hardly plead for him.