Rugby World Cup 2011
Canada eye France scalp
Kieran Crowley (Getty Images)
Wellington - The rugby neutrals will be backing Canada to pull off a second upset at the Rugby World Cup when they take on France on Sunday.
The Canucks beat a fancied Tonga side 25-20 to get their World Cup campaign off to a flying start, while the French stuttered to a 47-21 victory over Japan in their opener.
"This is the World Cup and you've got to go out there and try to win each game," Canada's Kiwi coach Kieran Crowley vowed after the Tonga win.
Fullback James Pritchard added that he and his team-mates, among them only two full-time professionals and a mere handful more playing at second division level, wanted to gain some respect.
"The rest are amateurs," he said. "So all we want is some respect because although these guys might not be full-time professionals, they can play some rugby.
"We really have to do it on Sunday for people to take us seriously. And what better way to do that than against the French.
"They are world-beaters on their day, but they also have bad days like in the Six Nations when they were rolled by Italy."
He added: "This is big, we've drawn a line in the sand (against Tonga) and we can't go back from that performance."
France coach Marc Lievremont wielded the axe after the Japan game, with only four players retained.
Veteran Aurelien Rougerie moves from centre to the wing and is named as captain in place of Thierry Dusautoir - who does not make the bench - while the only other survivors from the starting XV are hooker William Servat, flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc and wing Vincent Clerc.
Imanol Harinordoquy, subject to an angry tirade from Lievremont that he had not taken the Japan game seriously enough, is dropped to the bench with Louis Picamoles replacing Raphael Lakafia at No 8, and flankers Fulgence Ouedraogo and Julien Bonnaire stepping in for Dusautoir and Harinordoquy.
"Everyone is in the same boat, we have got to do better, to fully apply ourselves," said centre Maxime Mermoz.
Recalled fullback Damien Traille stressed that the priority on Sunday would be to concentrate on getting all five points available against the Canadians.
"We know what is coming up, but we don't have the time to start thinking about the All Blacks," he said of their pool game against hosts New Zealand on September 24, with their group phase completed on October 1 against Tonga.
"We saw last weekend that there are no longer any minnow teams in this competition."
Canada coach Crowley, however, has had to nurse his team through a turnaround of just four days, something the former New Zealand selector and All Black fullback said made him "laugh".
"The tier two nations only have four days' turnaround time and tier one has seven or eight days. It is what it is. We knew that this is what it would be like when the draw came out," he said.