French prepared for toughest test
June 26, 2009
France have stirred up proceedings ahead of their Test against Robbie Deans' Australia in Sydney on Saturday, labelling the Wallabies as the best team in the southern hemisphere after their drawn two-Test series against the All Blacks.
Marc Lievremont's men will face Australia in the final Test of their tour, and they're expecting a fierce contest. With their preparations blighted by the news of centre Mathieu Bastareaud's fabricated assault story arising from a drinking session in Wellington the French need to hit the ground running at ANZ Stadium.
"Australia are now the best team in the south, although South Africa impressed me against the Lions. The Australians have very few weaknesses," French skipper Thierry Dusautoir told newspaper L'Equipe.
The Wallabies have had a few disciplinary worries of their own in the build-up to the game, with the Australian Rugby Union currently investigating a "breach of protocol" by certain players following their 34-12 second Test victory over Italy in Melbourne last weekend. Despite this however, the French coaches have been preparing their much-changed side for their hardest test on tour.
Forwards coach Didier Retiere was pleased with the manner in which his side took on the injury-ravaged All Blacks, but is concerned by the strength in depth shown in the Australian ranks.
"Our team was quite young (but) it was maybe easier for us and we can see that Australia with all these players, I think it will be very hard," he said. "I think that New Zealand are maybe more instinctive (than Australia), they like to play in the gaps. Australia are more structured with very talented players but they are like a machine."
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September