Mermoz: ‘Let’s play with a smile’

Date published: March 14 2015

New France centre Maxime Mermoz wants his side to shake off the "cloud of tension" above the squad this Sunday against Italy.

France have won only one of their three matches this season and have been on the end of a huge backlash for their performances from the French supporters and media.

Faced with a tough prospect travelling to Rome this weekend given Italy will be full of confidence following their win away to Scotland, Mermoz wants France to relax and express themselves rather than worry about matters off the field.

"There is always a small cloud of tension when there is a need for results but we have to try and play with a smile on our faces," said Mermoz.

"At times, there have been wonderful things in our play, and at other times not so much. It makes it complicated for the confidence of the team. There are a lot of questioning looks at why and how.

"But we feel we are not far away from getting it together. It must be a collective will to keep the ball and control the game.

"It is hard to say what we can bring to the field, all the matches are different, different opportunities arrive.

"We can even do something we might not have planned. But we have to simply try and play without asking too many questions, we have to just play smart."

Mermoz's team-mate Nicolas Mas, who starts for the first time at tighthead, vowed to give everything for a "hungry" French side.

"All of us, even those who started the three matches, are hungry. We want to show that we deserve much more," Mas told AFP.

"Now I have my chance, I have to give it everything.

"But we have to think about the team above all, we need to build confidence. Even if we can't win the tournament (Italy and England) are two important matches."