French media deride latest contest
You do not need much to stir the emotions here.
There is a minirevolution around every corner.
France’s rugby bosses have invoked the ire of their constituents by having a starstudded French XV play the New Zealand tourists‚ three days after their national team played the All Blacks and four days before they are to engage SA.
Springbok rugby may not be in the rudest health at the moment, but by including players such as giant lock Yoann Maestri‚ creative flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc‚ South African-born fullback Scott Spedding‚ Hugo Bonneval‚ Romain Taufifenua‚ as well as flyhalf Jules Plisson, who is on the bench‚ the French have their resources spread thin.
The local media has derided the contest as nothing more than an exhibition throw-around for which Test caps will not be handed out.
It is unlikely France coach Guy Noves will include any of the players who played on Tuesday night in his team to face the Boks on Saturday.
The experienced Maestri‚ who has 59 caps‚ did not add to his collection on Tuesday and it is unlikely he will on Saturday.
He seems to be at odds with his former club coach but was quick to douse the speculation.
Maestri‚ who will break his long association with Toulouse to join La Rochelle next season‚ made it clear that he was not annoyed to be selected for what amounts to a France B side.
He added that the French team did not belong to anybody.
Trinh-Duc, who has 61 caps and came on for just five minutes in France’s 38-18 loss to the All Blacks, also seems to operate on the coach’s peripherals.
Noves has already announced an enforced change to his squad with prop Sebastien Taofifenua replacing the injured Raphael Chaume.
The latter made his debut against the All Blacks‚ while the former could follow him into Test rugby this weekend.
Whoever the French push into battle on Saturday‚ the Springboks cannot afford to take them lightly.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen — not usually this generous with praise — paid the Tricolores a huge compliment last week when he said France was now the best team in the world on offloads.