Sunday 19 November 2017

All the pressure is on Ireland says Saint-Andre

France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre during the captain's run
France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre during the captain's run

Philippe Saint-Andre has ordered France to go all-out to "unnerve" Ireland and outdo Joe Schmidt's men at their very own high-ball tactics.

France boss Saint-Andre has paired Brice Dulin and Scott Spedding - two full-backs - in his back three and admitted doing so purely to counter Ireland's much-vaunted tactical kicking game.

Tomorrow's victors will top Pool D and meet Argentina in the last eight, avoiding New Zealand in the process.

"Ireland have a very attacking kicking game and score lots of points off up-and-unders and cross-field kicks," said Saint-Andre.

"So to start with two players who are full-backs is a bid to unnerve the Irish and have options for counter-attacking.

"Brice (Dulin) is a good player, he knows how the France team functions because he has been with us since the outset.

"Ireland put a lot into their offensive kicking.

"So this is to counter that tactic and to create possibilities for ourselves on counter-attacking from those positions."

Saint-Andre insisted Ireland are favourites for Sunday's Millennium Stadium clash, backing half-backs Sebastien Tillous-Borde and Frederic Michalak to boss the game for Les Bleus.

France's players have spent the week winding up the tension through barely-veiled threats on the physical assault that will be coming Johnny Sexton's way in Cardiff.

The inclusion of power wing Noa Nakaitaci and No 8 Louis Picamoles only adds to that motorcade of juggernauts, spearheaded by centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

"I think all the pressure is on Ireland. They are favourites," said Saint-Andre.

France: S Spedding; N Nakaitaci, M Bastareaud, W Fofana, B Dulin; F Michalak, S Tillous-Borde; E Ben Arous, G Guirado, R Slimani, P Pape, Y Maestri, T Dusautoir (capt), D Chouly, L Picamoles. Replacements: B Kayser, V Debaty, N Mas, A Flanquart, B Le Roux, M Parra, R Tales, A Dumoulin.

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