In the aftermath of their 23-17 victory over Scotland at the weekend, France coach Phillipe Saint-Andre has admitted his side must improve if they are to justify a 3/10 price to beat Ireland on Sunday.
Whilst initially outlining his satisfaction at the final whistle at Murrayfield on Saturday, Saint-Andre has since made clear the fact that the standard of performance was not up to scratch, following closer inspection of the match on video.
The opening 20 minutes of the match was of particular concern to the stern coach, who saw his side fall behind 10-0 in a period which was epitomised by shoddy passing and complacency in terms of concentration from the visitors.
Saint-Andre told BBC Sport, “What we really need to change is that we hit the ground running from the kick-off and not sleepwalk through the opening 20 minutes like we did against Italy and Scotland. If we do that against Ireland, it will not go well for us at the Stade de France.”
Ireland’s re-arranged visit will provide an immediate opportunity to improve and gratify the wishes of Saint-Andre, who has drafted Clement Poitrenaud into his squad as a replacement for injured full-back Maxime Medard.
Poitrenaud’s inclusion marks his first appearance in the French squad since a Six Nations defeat to England at Twickenham last year, and he will be keen to make an impression in order to ensure that he isn’t overlooked for such a lengthy period in future.
Despite Wales overhauling France as tournament favourites, Saint-Andre’s men can still claim this year’s Six Nations title at 2/1, though they will realistically need to win each of their remaining games to do so, including achieving victory at the Millennium Stadium over Wales in their final match.
That would necessitate a Grand Slam win for the French, and it is 3/1 that they manage to pull that off.