Six Nations

Kockott in line to be dropped

2015-02-15 13:39
Rory Kockott (Gallo Images)

Dublin - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre promised changes to the starting line-up for their next Six Nations game against Wales, with scrumhalf Rory Kockott appearing to be one of those at risk of being dropped.

Saint-Andre, speaking on Sunday, the day after his side lost 18-11 to defending Six Nations champions Ireland at Lansdowne Road, said several players had not performed at the level required for Test rugby.

While the 47-year-old, who has just three away wins (two against Scotland and one against Argentina) to his credit since taking over at the helm after the 2011 World Cup final, initially refused to name names he gave a curt response when asked about Kockott's performance.

"He can do better," said Saint-Andre.

By contrast the vastly-more experienced Morgan Parra, who replaced the South African-born scrum-half in the 66th minute, was praised by Saint-Andre.

Parra's introduction prompted France's best period of the match resulting in the only try of the game with 10 minutes remaining.

"Morgan did well when he came on," said Saint-Andre. "In the first half we had trouble varying our play but Morgan's performance gives us options at scrum-half."

Saint-Andre, who has used over 80 players during his three-year tenure, prompting criticism he has yet to find a settled team with just months to go to the World Cup, defended fly-half Camille Lopez, albeit with reservations.

"Camille did some good things, though he is aware that his variety of play in the first half was not good," said Saint-Andre.

"It is fine to pass to Mathieu Bastareaud from time to time because he sucks in three players to bring him down.

"However, we needed to alternate our play, give it some variety and feed it down the backline or kick in behind the Irish backs.

"However, Camille is talented and he has qualities and one must remember he hasn't many caps (it was his seventh). This is the first time he has played abroad in the Six Nations.

"There are other players' performances which were worse, so stop picking on the fly-half."

Another player who could be fighting for his place in the starting XV against Wales at the Stade de France in a fortnight is the experienced lock and one-time captain Pascal Pape, who was sin-binned for kneeing Irish No8 Jamie Heaslip in the back early in the second half.

"When you watch the images of the incident I don't think you can say it was deliberate," said Saint-Andre.

"However, I said to Pascal 'you received a yellow card just at the moment we were gaining the upper hand' (53rd minute) both physically and territorially as we were in their 22.

"Although we didn't concede many points it was still a pivotal moment.

"You expect something like that from an inexperienced player, not one with over 50 Tests under his belt. It was the worst possible moment for that to happen."

Saint-Andre revealed he had several injury concerns ahead of naming his squad for the Wales game including full-back Scott Spedding who failed to return to the fray after not being passed fit under the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocol, but said there were positive things to build on.

"Our defence was excellent, we had a 90percent success rate there, and our scrum was very good against the Irish, much better than last year (when the Irish beat them 22-20 in Paris to win the title)," he said.

"We have got answers to several questions we posed ourselves before the game and, honestly, given the performance against the champions and a team ranked above us in the world, we are not that far behind them.

"However, in a few months we play them in our World Cup pool match and there we are obliged to win. There is not a lot of time left."

Read more on:    france  |  six nations  |  rory kockott  |  rugby

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