Planet Rugby

Le Crunch will set the trend - PSA

30th January 2014 17:15


France centre Wesley Fofana L and fly half Jules Plisson

Man of the moment: Jules Plisson

France coach Philippe Saint-André hopes victory over England on Saturday will kick-start a better year for his team.

Les Bleus head into their Six Nations opener off the back of their worst year in the professional era, losing eight times in 11 matches.

Saint-André admitted that starting their campaign against England will give France an early indication of how far they can go in this season's Championship, although he was quick to dismiss any notion that they should be considered favourites.

"A win would give us a lot of confidence and instil plenty of positivity in the group, but a defeat could spoil the Six Nations," he said.

"The first international match often sets the tempo for your season. We know that because last year we had a defeat in Italy (23-18) and then we had a difficult year.

"You can't be the favourites when you finished last in the 2013 Six Nations! We are outsiders. The favourites are the Welsh and the English.

"We are just going to concentrate on Saturday's match and try to have a much better 2014 than 2013."

22-year-old Stade Français fly-half Jules Plisson will make his international debut after being named in Saint-André's starting XV on Thursday.

Plisson will be partnered at half-back by Jean-Marc Doussain of Toulouse, while his Stade Francais teammate Alexandre Flanquart is preferred to Yoann Maestri in the second row.

Along with Doussain, who is also 22, they will form the 10th different half-back pairing in 22 matches under Saint-André.

"Jules Plisson is young but he already has a good array of talents, in terms of style, technique and strategy. He will play in the 'crunch' and he will need to start well," said Saint-André.

Of his decision to select Flanquart, the coach added: "It is the second row that plays together all year at Stade Français. We have brought together an experienced player (Pascal Pape) with another who is very strong in the air with his line-outs, restarts.

"We will need that against the English."

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