Wellington - Tonga captain Finau Maka thinks France may have a soft core and will targeting its "weak" centres in Saturday's World Cup match with a quarter final place at stake.
While France, which sits in second place in Pool A, can still lose the match and qualify, Tonga must score four tries and hope France loses by more than seven points and Canada does not do the unthinkable and beat New Zealand.
The All Blacks ripped apart France's midfield to run in five tries in a 37-17 win last Saturday, and Maka thinks there is perhaps a soft core in Marc Lievremont's team.
"Maybe their centres are weak, just because I think (Aurelien) Rougerie's not a center, (and) him and Maxime (Mermoz) haven't played together (much)," Maka said on Thursday.
"Maybe their front row (is weak as well), we can target their scrum."
Those comments should spice up the contest, considering two of France's front row, prop Jean-Baptiste Poux and hooker William Servat, are Maka's former Toulouse teammates.
"To me it's a good thing just knowing who their danger players are and knowing where their weaknesses are," Maka said.
"When we analyze the French team we know quite a lot about their players so it helps a lot. A lot of our players have played in the Top 14 and Pro D2. It's great to have that experience."
Tonga prop Kisi Pulu, who plays for Perpignan in the Top 14, will be all ears at the scrum.
"I know what they'll be saying. It's an advantage to listen to what they are doing and their game plans," Pulu said.
"If they speak really fast I won't pick it, but I should get something."
France coach Marc Lievremont has been heavily criticized for shaking up his team at the World Cup, dropping flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc and replacing him with Morgan Parra, even though Parra is a scrumhalf with limited experience of playing No. 10.
"I would probably have (Dimitri) Yachvili at scrumhalf and Trinh-Duc (at flyhalf)," Maka said, adding he was "really surprised" when Lievremont left veteran prop Sylvain Marconnet out of his 30-man World Cup squad, having included him in his provisional 33.
"I thought they would bring him for his experience," said Maka, giving Lievremont more advice about team selection.
Lievremont first experimented with Rougerie, who has played most of his career as a winger, at center last year, and has persisted with it since, overlooking other more experienced players.
"Probably (the) two centres (I would have chosen) have been left behind in France," Maka said
"I would probably go with Florian Fritz and Yannick Jauzion, they won the French championship last season."
It is hardly surprising, given Maka's fondness for his former club, that Jauzion and Fritz both play for Toulouse.
If Toulouse felt like a second family for Maka, then playing for Tonga is even more intimate.
His brother, Isitolo Maka, is the national coach.
"We spent all our time together (growing up), then played together and now he's the boss. It's a bit difficult, it's fine when we win, but it's a bit tricky when we lose."