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Homesick family nudged Kepu back to Tahs

AAP logoAAP 16/11/2016 Joe Barton

For the sake of his young family Sekope Kepu said goodbye to Australian rugby last year - only to return six months later for exactly the same reason.

The Wallabies scrum linchpin has left the door ajar for another attempt at playing overseas, but admits the strain of a recent stint in France placed on his young family meant a swift return home was the only solution.

It was to best look after his wife and two children that Kepu signed a rich deal with the Bordeaux Beagles, who he joined after last year's World Cup final defeat to the All Blacks.

And while the 30-year-old has only fond memories of his on-field experience - including taking several steps forward in his development as a scrummager - adjusting to life in a foreign land took its toll on the very people he was desperate to look out for.

With two young children and a wife far removed from her family support network, the pressures mounted until Kepu made the decision mid-year to cut short his French stay and return to the Waratahs - where he will anchor the scrum again from next year.

"Family is a massive thing for myself," Kepu said in Paris on Tuesday.

"I struggled and the family struggled a bit, two boys under three for my wife, by herself and away from everyone and what she's used to, that was always tough.

"But it was a learning experience for both of us.

"Who knows? I'm back in Australia until 2019 and depending on how the wheels hold up, there may be another opportunity, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

There have been positives from both Kepu's decision to leave Australian rugby and to return.

He insists he's become a technically more proficient scrummager having worked with some of the best in the northern hemisphere.

"It was unfortunate that things didn't quite work out for family reasons ... but I thoroughly enjoyed the football side of it," he said.

"I learned a lot in the six months I was here and in terms of (being) a front-rower it really helped me with that knowledge."

And the time away also grew the 75-Test veteran's appreciation for the Wallabies jersey.

"Something that I've learned from the experience of coming over here was just how much the Wallabies jersey and the Waratahs jersey meant to me," he added.

"It was a good reality check to come over here. To get the opportunity to play Test rugby is very rare so everything worked out in the end, and I'm very grateful to be back here in France with the Wallabies.

"You're hungry to play Test rugby and play at the top level every week and you want to put your best foot forward."

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