Huget: SA will be dan­ger­ous

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WEST­HUYZEN

TWO of Les Bleus’ more ex­pe­ri­enced backs, believe the Spring­boks will be a very dan­ger­ous beast when the teams meet in the first of three Tests at Lof­tus Vers­feld in Pre­to­ria on Satur­day.

Al­lis­ter Coet­zee’s side go into this sea­son on the back of a dis­as­trous 2016, where they won just four Tests out of the 12 they played. The coach just man­aged to hang on to his job, but he has roped in new as­sis­tants in Bren­dan Ven­ter and Franco Smith to help turn the team’s for­tunes around, while Warren White­ley of the Lions has been named new cap­tain.

Wing Yoann Huget, who has played 47 Tests, be­lieves Coet­zee’s team will be hun­gry for a vic­tory.

“South Africa are not used to los­ing so of­ten, like they did last year, so I think they’ll be a very dan­ger­ous team,” said the 30-year-old ahead of the Test.

“They’ve also made some ad­di­tions to their sup­port staff which will boost them, but to be hon­est I’m not too con­cerned about the Boks and the sit­u­a­tion they find them­selves.”

Cen­tre Gael Fikou (23), one of the ris­ing stars of French rugby and a man who’s al­ready notched up 29 Tests, agreed with his team­mate. “They’re still a good team and with so many younger play­ers in the squad now, they’ll be a dan­ger­ous side.

“And let’s not for­get, rugby is like a re­li­gion in South Africa … much more than it is in France … so, we re­spect the Boks, and the way they go about what they do.”

Nei­ther men would have faced the likes of a pos­si­ble Bok start­ing back­line con­sist­ing of Ross Cronje, El­ton Jan­tjies, Jan Ser­fontein, Jesse Kriel, Court­nall Skosan, Ray­mond Rhule and An­dries Coet­zee be­fore but Huget and Fikou are not too per­turbed.

“I’ve seen them play be­fore so I know what to ex­pect,” said Huget, while Fikou added, “I know a few of them, they’ll be strong and dan­ger­ous.”

The French team’s big­gest chal­lenge may come in play­ing on the highveld after their long sea­son in Europe and not be­ing used to the speed of the game among the South­ern Hemi­sphere teams.

“Yes, there is a big dif­fer­ence,” said Huget, who’s turned out for Toulouse since 2012. “The rucks are quicker, and the game is gen­er­ally much faster. So, it’s go­ing to be a good test for us after a long sea­son, es­pe­cially for the younger play­ers who’ve come on tour.”

French coach Guy Noves, who only ar­rived in South Africa on Tues­day, along with six play­ers who were in­volved in Sun­day’s Top 14 fi­nal be­tween Toulon and Cler­mont, will name his team later to­day. Both Huget and Fikou, who were part of France’s Six Na­tions run are ex­pected to be named in the start­ing XV.

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