Thursday 14 December 2017

Powerful Picamoles ready to pick holes in Ireland

France's number 8 Louis Picamole
France's number 8 Louis Picamole

Who is the greatest number eight in the world anyway? Is it Sergio Parisse? Is it Kieran Read? Is it Louis Picamoles?

Whatever the merits of one or all, Ireland will have to mind Picamoles one week after Parisse almost piloted their World Cup campaign into a tailspin.

Hell, there is every chance Ireland will have to deal with the third of these, Read, next weekend, should Picamoles' French crew give the Toulouse man the all-over support that wasn't there for Parisse.

The 29-year-old has trimmed away some of the excess weight that has held him back in recent years.

"I try to use my power for the benefit of my team mates," he said.

"I think the big change for me is that I am now able to adapt my style of play depending on how the game goes."

"I can more easily move on to something else too. Before, my first move used to set the tone for my whole game.

"Now, if I make a mistake, I can forget about it and move on to the next ball."

He has had to overcome mental fragility and find the edge he recognises in Ireland's main leader Paul O'Connell.

"He is a great player. We know he is a key element of this team," said Picamoles.

"He is good in the lineouts. He is tough and very impressive physically."

The imposing back rower is a most destructive carrier of the ball with a variety of deceptive skills.

"I would have liked to bring more to the team, more of what I am good at. I don't think I did all I could do," he said about his impact against Italy and Romania.

The theory goes that fresh France will have ten days in which to construct a game plan to compromise and, ultimately, conquer, Ireland.

Picamoles will have had 18 days to make ready to do what Parisse couldn't quite.

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