Powerful France targeting Wallabies win
November 26, 2010
Fulgence Ouedraogo and Sebastien Chabal start in the French back-row © Getty Images
France bring the curtain down on their November campaign against Australia on Saturday, with the Wallabies also eyeing a positive end to a rollercoaster year.
Robbie Deans' youngsters took the first step to recovery after their Twickenham hammering by beating Italy last weekend, although they will need another lift in performance against a French side that has been building slowly in recent weeks.
Two dour wins, over Fiji and Argentina, were ruined by torrential rain so we are yet to see their monster backline, with Damien Traille, Yannick Jauzion and Aurelien Rougerie at 10, 12 and 13, in full flight.
France - Player to Watch: A week after being described as a 'spoilt child' by his coach, Montpellier flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo is back in the side and has been charged with making a serious dent in Australian playmaker Quade Cooper.
France - Team News: Perpignan's Jerome Porical is recalled at fullback, while Sebastien Chabal is retained at No.8. Imanol Harinordoquy, this week named on the shortlist for IRB World Player of the Year, fails to make the 22.
Australia - Player to Watch: James O'Connor missed last weekend's showdown with Italy in order to attend a funeral but the 20-year-old winger is back in action and will want to end a superb individual season on a high before linking up with the Barbarians.
Australia - Team News: O'Connor is joined in the backs by fit-again scrum-half Will Genia, who will wear special padding to protect a rib injury. Berrick Barnes retains the No.12 jersey ahead of Matt Giteau and the story is the same in the front-row, where James Slipper keeps out Benn Robinson.
Key Battle: David Pocock has spoken this week of the Wallabies' desire to protect their fly-half and with France set to send Chabal and Co. hammering down Cooper's channel it will be vital that he is looked after. Australia cannot afford to lose their way out wide as France look set to win the battle up front.
Trivia: France coach Marc Lievremont packed down against Australia in the 1999 Rugby World Cup final - his final Test.
Stats: Giteau's benching means that he will not have the chance to take a chunk out of Michael Lynagh's lead at the top of Australia's scoring charts against France. He's in second with 80 points - 46 behind Lynagh.
"We could have gone for the power option we used against Argentina, while there was also the more mobile option with Bonnaire at No.8, Dusautoir and Fulgence. And then there was the other way, the one we chose, with two No.10 hunters and the power of Sebastien Chabal." - France coach Marc Lievremont sets his sights on Quade Cooper
"Quadey's been under a fair bit of heat all year and I think a lot more teams are going to start targeting him. When that happens it's an opportunity for other guys to step up, take a bit of pressure off him." - Australia flanker David Pocock
Prediction: In another intriguing battle of power against finesse, France's powerful pack and heavyweight midfield should have too much grunt and experience for the Wallabies.
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