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Unsatisfied Fabien Galthie wary of Wales' 'pure talent'

By PA
Fabien Galthie, the France head coach, issues instructions prior to the Guinness Six Nations 2024 match between France and Italy at Stade Pierre Mauroy on February 25, 2024 in Lille, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Fabien Galthie readily accepts that France “are not at the level we want to be” during what has proved to be a spluttering Guinness Six Nations campaign.

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Les Bleus tackle Wales in Cardiff on Sunday, having lost to Ireland and drawn with Italy, while claiming a scratchy victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.

They will arrive at the Principality Stadium showing eight changes to the side held in Lille by Italy, including Test debuts for full-back Leo Barre, centre Nicolas Depoortere and lock Emmanuel Meafou.

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Barre takes over from Thomas Ramos, who moves to fly-half instead of an injured Matthieu Jalibert, with Depoortere replacing a suspended Jonathan Danty and Meafou preferred to Posolo Tuilagi.

Elsewhere, captain and number eight Gregory Alldritt returns after injury as France defend a four-game unbeaten Six Nations record against Wales.

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“The results are not what we wanted, now what we wished for. We will be better soon,” France head coach Galthie said.

“We are not satisfied, no one is. We have high expectations of ourselves, and we are not at the level we want to be.

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“I am convinced in the strength of people and their character, individually and collectively.

“Right now, the team we will play is a young, brave Welsh team. They have always had pure talent.”

Ramos’ positional switch has come with Jalibert and Romain Ntamack sidelined, while Nolann Le Garrec also features in a new half-back partnership that will be key to victory hopes.

Galthie added: “He (Ramos) has played a lot at 10 since the World Cup in important games with Toulouse. He has been among the best 10s in France.

“With how we play, when you are at 15 you are often asked to step up into the 10 slot. He has been a second 10 in our system.

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“He is mature and we know his qualities. It is a coherent choice to give him this responsibility.

“(Le Garrec) has been very good with Racing, and with us for three years during training.”

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Flankly 8 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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