Under-fire France captain seeking forgiveness
SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: Under-fire France captain Guilhem Guirado said Friday his side were desperate to make amends for their poor Six Nations campaign in their final game against Italy on Saturday, as he revealed how he almost lost the captain’s armband after last month’s defeat by England.
Coach Jacques Brunel has backed Guirado amid speculation about his role after last month’s 8-44 humiliation against England.
“[Brunel] just asked me if I felt ready to continue,” Guirado told journalists at the Stadio Olimpico.
“I told Jacques I was ready, that there were a lot of things to improve on the way we worked.
“There was a lot of soul searching.
“All the problems were put on the table. And obviously the role of captain was broached with Jacques, in relation to his task, the burden and what that meant.
“It was more than a month ago. A lot of things have happened since.
“I’m more focused on the match tomorrow.”
Centre Mathieu Bastareaud, sat alongside Guirado in the press conference, said he had tried to support his fellow Toulon player.
“Not to hide anything for you, he [Guirado] came to talk to me,” said Bastareaud.
“Because apart from being my teammate he’s also my friend. I tried to support him as best I could. I gave him my support.”
The 32-year-old Guirado’s side – who gained a morale-boosting 27-10 win over Scotland after the England hammering – fell 14-26 to Ireland last weekend.
France are second-bottom of the table ahead of Italy, and Guirado said they had “a lot to be forgiven” for in this campaign.
But hopes are high against the Italians who have not won a Six Nations game since February 2015.
“I’m waiting for rebellion. I feel we’re going to have a big match,” said Guirado of Italy who are on a 22-match losing streak in the tournament.
“We’re wary. I think they’ve changed compared to before, against Ireland (16-26 defeat) and England (14-57 defeat) they were dangerous and had significant possession, but they didn’t manage to finish their dangerous attacks.
“What is important is that we are focused and precise on what we have to do…
“[A win] obviously won’t change much, so I’m expecting to see above all honour, pride, values that were lacking against Ireland.”