France captain Thierry Dusautoir believes the influx of new players for Saturday’s game with Fiji will not affect the team’s cohesion.
France captain Thierry Dusautoir insisted Friday that the influx of new players to the starting XV against Fiji on Saturday will not affect the team’s cohesion.
Coach Philippe Saint-Andre has come under fire for constantly chopping and changing his side, and once again he has picked three uncapped players – with a fourth on the bench – ahead of the game at the Stade Velodrome.
Yet Dusautoir believes the likes of South African-born pair Scott Spedding, who starts at full-back, and Rory Kockott, the replacement scrum-half, as well as Racing-Metro duo Teddy Thomas (wing) and Alexandre Dumoulin (centre) have adapted well to their new surroundings.
“The issue is that the new arrivals express themselves to the maximum of their potential and feel good in the team,” said the Toulouse flanker.
“It’s the work we’ve done throughout the week so that the whole group of players participating in the encounter play without the breaks on and with lots of enthusiasm.
“That was the aim of the first training camps, so that they would acclimatise quickly to our style of play.
“So far I’ve seen nothing negative, the new players have integrated into our squad very quickly but I remain convinced that real integration happens on the pitch. So we’ll see tomorrow at 5.45pm.”
Fiji’s coach John McKee claimed earlier Friday that France would play directly and use their forwards to batter away at the Fiji defence, whereas his own team would try to play a more expansive game.
But Dusautoir insists les Bleuscan run the ball themselves when they want to and will not look to play a less imaginative game based around rucking and mauling, although they will try to remain organised.
“We’ll also try to express ourselves in the backs,” he added.
“What’s certain is that the Fijians are renowned in all the leagues in which they play as players who can make a huge difference.
“Individually they’re very physical, very powerful and they run very fast. Maybe physically we don’t have the same strengths as them but collectively we’re maybe more suited to working together.
“We’ll look to use our organisation to beat them. The trap would be to fall into a match based only on disorder, which would suit the Fijians. That would be advantageous for them.”
France have been poor under Saint-Andre, winning only 11 out of 29 Tests and just five out of the last 19 since the start of 2013.
Saint-Andre has the worst win percentage of any France coach over the last 30 years.
But Dusautoir believes the team is still on course to perform at next year’s World Cup in England.
“The closer we get the more I arrive at the same conclusion,” he explained.
“We’d all like to follow a lineal progression, improving bit by bit, building our team on an upward curve.
“Unfortunately, our road is always bumpy but what I know is that the France team, no matter what the generation, has the ability to react for the big tournaments.
“We’d all prefer a more regular and pragmatic progress but we’re not like that.
“We find ourselves in a situation in which we have 11 matches before the World Cup. The World Cup will have a different atmosphere and a different preparation.
“That being said, this period will allow us to build confidence and assuredness in certain parts of our game.”