Australian-born lock Emmanuel Meafou said he hoped to be named in France’s Six Nations squad after scoring to help five-time winners Toulouse beat Sale Sharks 27-5 to claim their place in the round of 16 of the Champions Cup on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Meafou, who is waiting for a French passport and could even feature in the upcoming Six Nations, collapsed in the second half when Sale played an hour with 14 men after Cobus Wiese’s red card.
France’s Six Nations squad is named on Tuesday, but the 2.03m, 140kg second row is barred from playing for his adopted country before receiving citizenship, which he will reportedly get in time for the third-round match. round against Scotland on February 26.
“Our guys fought hard, it’s good to get the win here,” Meafou told BT Sport.
“Every week I try to go and play my best game and if the international call comes I hope I’m ready for that, now I’m just focusing on playing well for Toulouse,” he added.
The home side will need to win in Ulster in the final round of pool play next weekend to keep their hopes of progress alive.
Under exceptional sunshine in suburban Manchester, Sale made the worst possible start when power forwards Simon McIntyre and Nic Schonert collided just after kick-off and left the field with just six seconds left with head injuries.
That was compounded by a red card for Wiese after 18 minutes when the South African block recklessly and dangerously entered a ruck.
Despite that, the home side led 5-3 at half-time thanks to a try from hooker Akker van der Merwe, who lived up to his ‘Angry Warthog’ nickname as he blasted his way through for his fifth try of the season. .
The second half, however, was exclusive to Toulouse, who scored 24 unanswered points.
Meafou and replacement hooker Guillaume Cramont went over for tries, while fullback Melvyn Jaminet brought his kick tally to 17 points.
Four-time winners Leinster also reached the knockout stages by defeating Gloucester 42-14 with World Rugby player of the year Josh van der Flier on the scoreboard.
Ireland right prop Cian Healy became the fifth player to reach 100 games in Champions Cup competitions by replacing Michael Ala’alatoa with half an hour to play.
The teams followed Leicester to the next stage after the two-time winners beat Clermont 44-29 on Friday.
Later, Munster will play Northampton in a repeat of the 2000 final, champions La Rochelle will host Ulster and the Saracens will be without England captain Owen Farrell in the first of four matches after receiving a ban for a high ticket when they host Lyon.
On Sunday, three-time runners-up Racing 92 will play English champions Harlequins.