Six Nations

Dusautoir promises French drive

2015-03-14 20:26
Thierry Dusautoir (Getty Images)

Rom - France captain Thierry Dusautoir said the struggling Six Nations giants will be doubly determined when they face Italy on Sunday looking to avoid a third consecutive defeat in Rome.

Calls for the head of France coach Philippe Saint-Andre have grown increasingly louder since Les Bleus suffered their second defeat of the current campaign at home to Wales two weeks ago.

The pressure is now on the 2010 champions ahead of a game the resurgent Italians are desperate to win a fortnight after beating Scotland at Murrayfield.

The Azzurri have beaten France on their past two visits to the Italian capital, in 2013 and 2011, but Dusautoir said the visitors won't be without motivation on Sunday.

"Italy is not the same team as it was 10 years ago, they've made a lot of progress and all the teams who come here find it difficult. We've lost the past two times we've come here," Dusautoir told reporters at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

"But at the same time the context is different from what it was even two years ago. We've come here with perhaps more determination to win than we did two years ago.

"We've looked at how we lost the last two games (against Ireland and Wales) and we're fully focused on getting a win against Italy."

On France's last visit to the Italian capital the Azzurri stunned Les Bleus 23-18 to extinguish any hopes they had of aiming for the Grand Slam.

Despite France making amends against the Italians with a heavy defeat at the Stade de France in 2014, the fizz has left Saint-Andre's side this term.

While fingers are being pointed at the former France wing, the current crop of players have not been spared criticism. Some have been accused of not playing for the team and Saint-Andre hit out last week: "The France jersey should bring out your best, you should be a gladiator."

The coach has made a total of eight changes, four of which are injury-enforced, with experienced prop Nicolas Mas notably returning to the starting XV.

France's forwards coach Yannick Bru said Mas's presence both on and off the pitch could help make the difference in what is expected to be a bruising encounter played in possibly rainy conditions.

"It's a particular kind of game, between two Latin sides in Rome. I think Nico's experience in this type of situation will help the entire team," said Bru.

Bru added that while Italy have earned respect, "from the start, we have always focused on our own game and performance, not our opponents or the rain.

"When we say we're not worried about Italy, it's not out of a lack of respect for them. It's more because we have had enough work to do in our own back yard before worrying about anyone else's."

A solid performance will be crucial if France are to harbour any hopes of beating England at Twickenham in their final game on March 21.

After a week of introspection, Dusautoir said Les Bleus are ready to end their two-game winless streak in the Italian capital.

"What came out of this week is that all players are concentrated on what we have to do against Italy tomorrow, which is very important for us because we've already lost our last two games (this year)," he added.

"Obviously, we really want to go out and beat Italy, who are in full confidence after their victory in Scotland. We have to go out and play our game and give the best performance possible."

Read more on:    france  |  six nations  |  thierry dusautoir  |  rugby

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