herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Noves goes for double hit on irish

Powerful French looking to target front row ahead of Six Nations showdown in Paris

France's rugby team head coach Guy Noves. Photo: Christophe Ena.
France's rugby team head coach Guy Noves. Photo: Christophe Ena.

France will blast Ireland with the “double hit” of new props Jefferson Poirot and Uinio Atonio in tomorrow’s Six Nations battle in Paris, according to Guy Noves.

Head coach Noves has backed his revamped front-row to cause Ireland headaches - but insisted Rabah Slimani and Eddy Ben Arous have “proved their quality” despite demotion to France’s bench.

Les Bleus’ new boss has made six changes from the 23-21 victory over Italy last weekend for the visit of Ireland, Alexandre Flanquart and Yacouba Camara also slotting into the pack.

Teddy Thomas and Maxime Mermoz start in the backline, but Noves was at pains to insist his selection “tickle” does not represent criticism of those dropping out.

“Slimani and Ben Arous proved their quality against Italy,” said Noves.

Annoy

“The fact that they don’t start will annoy them, but it is not a penalty. It is a small form of challenge.

“In the meantime Jefferson Poirot and Uini Atonio will give us a double hit from the start.”

Poirot will make his first Test start this weekend after his debut off the bench in the edgy victory over Italy in Paris on Saturday.

France boss Noves insists there is no risk in promoting the 23-year-old Bordeaux prop despite his lack of international experience.

“This is not a gamble, it’s a wise choice,” said Noves.

Noves has kept faith with half-back duo Sebastien Bezy and Jules Plisson, and backed the pairing to drive the pace against Ireland.

Toulouse scrum-half Bezy missed three straight shots at goal against Italy, clearly overawed by the occasion.

Noves backed the 24-year-old to cope with his continued Test transition.

“You have to give them playing time to see what they can do,” said Noves.

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