French players to 'revolt'
SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: France captain Guilhem Guirado said on Friday his team are prepared to “revolt” as they face Scotland in the Six Nations this weekend.
Guirado’s side are yet to win during this year’s championship and suffered their heaviest defeat to England in more than a century in their last game a fortnight ago.
France are on a run of 10 defeats in their last 13 matches since Jacques Brunel took over as coach in December 2017.
“There will definitely be a revolt compared to our last match. What I don’t want is personal revolt but a collective and communal revolt,” Guirado said at his eve-of-match press conference.
“It’s a match to save our honour because we were given a lesson two weeks ago. There’s always pressure on the French national team even if the results had been positive we would still be under pressure,” he added as he reflected on their humiliating 44-8 drubbing by England.
Leading the Scots in Paris will be scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw who has guided Clermont to second in the French Top 14 table with his impeccable kicking.
Laidlaw predicts a backlash from Guirado’s men following criticism from the French press.
“They’re a very dangerous team, they’re hurting from what has been said in the media we’re expecting them to come out all guns blazing which I know they will,” Laidlaw said.
“I know the Clermont boys’ mentality, they’re very good rugby players. If they’re allowed time and space they’re very dangerous.”
He will face club teammates Sebastien Vahaamahina, Arthur Iturria and Damien Penaud as well as debutant Etienne Falgoux who starts on the bench.
He misses out on the chance to come up against fellow Clermont halfbacks Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez who have been dropped despite starting the opening two Six Nations fixtures.
Laidlaw, 33, refused to be drawn on the decision by Brunel and his coaching staff.
“That’s their selection. That’s nothing to do with me, I know nothing about it all,” he said.
Laidlaw will go head-to-head with inexperienced Toulouse combination Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.
The Scotland skipper praised the pair who have only played 13 Tests between them.
“They’re both excellent players. Both playing for Toulouse will help them,” he said.
“Dupont has been in excellent form in the Top 14. They will take confidence from playing for Toulouse together,” he added.
No.8 Louis Picamoles said the French forwards have a role to play to get the best out of the rookies who have only combined at halfback for their club once before as Ntamack wears the centre shirt for his club.
“They’ve played together throughout the season with Toulouse. They have showed all their talents for a while so I feel they are ready,” he said.
“It’s up for us as front eight to give them the platform to be able to express,” he added.
Scotland are without a victory in the French capital in 20 years and Laidlaw says they are looking to put things right after defeat to Ireland in the second round of the Six Nations.
“We were disappointed to lose at home against Ireland last time out and it’s really important how we bounce back from that.
“The proof is in the pudding so we will find out Saturday afternoon. That’s what we are all focusing on,”