France flanker Yannick Nyanga feels his team can't afford excuses when they face England in their Six Nations opener on Saturday.
France flanker Yannick Nyanga feels his team can afford no more excuses when they face England in their Six Nations opener on Saturday.
Les Bleus endured a miserable 2013, winning just two internationals out of 11 and losing eight.
Their Six Nations campaign was particularly chastening and although they improved throughout the year, particularly during the November internationals, they still lost to the world's top two in New Zealand and South Africa.
“The cohesion off the pitch has always been good,” said Nyanga.
“On the pitch it's true that we were lacking in certain matches the ability to convert our chances,” said the 30-year-old Toulouse back-rower.
“The top level is about winning and that's what's missing.
“We can no longer afford to say we played well, that we weren't far away, that we don't have enough time to prepare.
“Today there are no more excuses. We need to play well and win.”
Les Bleus host England at the Stade de France hoping to avoid the pitfalls of a disastrous start to their previous campaign when they lost in Italy.
A home defeat to Wales and a loss at Twickenham followed before a draw in Ireland and narrow home win over Scotland failed to see France avoid the wooden spoon, for the first time in Six Nations history.
They went on to lose all three tests in New Zealand in June before their only November solace was a win over Tonga.
“It is what it is, it's behind us,” added Nyanga, who has played 25 times for his country.
“Even if we beat England it won't change the fact that 2013 wasn't a good year (but) it doesn't weight on us any more than that.”
Nyanga, though, is confident that the French have progressed since this time last year.
“I hope so! We competed with teams like New Zealand at Eden Park (a 23-13 defeat) and in France (a 26-19 loss) where it was decided by little details,” he said.
“Against South Africa (a 19-10 defeat) it was the same, we started with a 7-0 deficit (after gifting the Springboks an early try)… I hope we've learned!
“Now it's up to us to show we're not so daft.
“Some people lose a lot and don't learn from it. I hope we're not at that stage, that we have a bit of something about us and pride, which we'll show on Saturday.”