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What Antoine Dupont has made of England dropping Owen Farrell

By PA
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Antoine Dupont insists France are ready for Owen Farrell to perform a key role in the decisive moments at Twickenham despite the England captain’s demotion to the bench. Marcus Smith has seized the fly-half duties for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash but Farrell is set to appear in the second half when Dupont believes his game management will be crucial.

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“Smith is a player who enjoys the attacking game, he is great at the one-on-ones,” the France skipper said. “He might not have as much control over the game as Farrell, but having Farrell’s experience on the bench is invaluable. It’s a massive asset.

“At this level, the final minutes of the game are very important so having Farrell come off the bench is great for them. A team’s strategy doesn’t change just because of one player. Both Smith and Farrell know how to fit within what is asked of the coach and the group.

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“We know they will be leaning towards the kicking game, they enjoy putting their opponent under pressure. Smith knows how to do it and he might be more dangerous than Farrell. Farrell is better defensively. They have different profiles but can be complementary at the end of the game.”

France have not won at Twickenham in the Six Nations since 2005 when former world player of the year Dupont was only eight-years-old, but their last two visits have been tightrope encounters.

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“We play every game to win. We had two difficult ones here – one in the Nations Cup with a remodelled team and we could have won in extra time and the last one in the Six Nations which ended in a three-point difference,” Dupont said. “We will have to be at our best because we know it’s going to be difficult. The English will also want to win, but we don’t really think about past experiences.

“Looking at their squad, you can see the quality and experience they have – even if they aren’t at their best. They have players who can play in the biggest moments and this is a big moment.”

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