Habana: French a lot smarter
Cape Town – Forget the old cliché of French flair. France are a tactically smart side these days and that is what will make them such dangerous opponents at Newlands on Saturday, warns Bryan Habana.
“There is a perception that the French throw the ball around and run from everywhere, but that is not the case. They are very physical and have become a lot smarter in their tactical approach,” said the Springbok left wing.
“They have outside backs that count among the best in the world, but are now a good all-round side and not one that simply throws the ball around and hopes for the ball to bounce for them.”
While outstanding players such as No 8 Imanol Harinordoquay, hooker William Servat, lock Sebastien Chabal and centres Mathieu Bastareaud and Yannick Jauzion are not available, Habana still knows what to expect from the French.
“You didn’t always know which French side would pitch up, but these days it’s a team with players that have not just showed what they can do in the Heineken Cup, but also won the Six Nations and have performed well against the Southern Hemisphere’s top sides. We last managed to beat the French in 2005,” said Habana.
“The way in which they played the last few years places them close to the top three nations in world rugby.”
South Africa have lost their tactical trump card in Fourie du Preez at scrumhalf, but Habana believes the focus should not be on replacing him.
“You can’t replace someone who is the best player in world rugby in my view,” he said.
“Ricky Januarie can grab the opportunity and reach the form that saw him score the winning try in Dunedin in 1998.”
Habana and Co are also prepared for a possible aerial attack from the French halfback pairing of Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc. He has full confidence in Gio Aplon and Zane Kirchner.
“Gio deserves his chance after stepping up in the Super14, while Zane is one of South Africa’s most consistent fullbacks.”