Pape returns to training

Thu, 11 Jul 2013 18:06
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France captain Pascal Pape on Thursday returned to training for the first time since injuring his back in the Six Nations.

France captain Pascal Pape on Thursday returned to training for the first time since injuring his back in the Six Nations, announced Stade Francais coach Gonzalo Quesada.

"Pape had his first rugby session today and it went well," the Argentinian, who was appointed from Racing Metro, told reporters.

"He's 100 percent in the programme set out. He's even a bit ahead. We thought we'd get him back into the rugby in the week of July 22, so he's a couple early."

Pape, capped 46 times for his country, was injured during France's 18-23 defeat to Italy in the opening match of their disastrous 2013 Six Nations campaign on February 3.

The 32-year-old lock was subsequently ruled out of the remainder of the tournament, which saw France finish bottom, the rest of the domestic season and Les Bleus' recent tour of New Zealand.

Quesada warned that coaching staff had to keep an eye on Pape to ensure that he came back at the right time.

But he said he was still hoping that he would be available for selection for the start of the upcoming season.

Quesada, meanwhile, said that Stade Francais were looking to build on their 10th place finish last season and were targeting the top half of the table.

But he warned that success would not come immediately, citing the example of Castres - last year's Top 14 champions - who took four years to rise to the top.

"We've got a good team, we've got what it takes to be there, we've got our chances. I hope that our project will take us to the top of the table but that doesn't happen in a year," he told a news conference.

Key to improving Stade Francais' title hopes was a better away record, said Quesada, admitting that a top six finish was one of the club's aims.

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