World Cup finalists wary of upset
February 24, 2012
Imanol Harinordoquy is one of top lineout forwards in the world © Getty Images
France flanker Imanol Harinordoquy believes Scotland will provide a much sterner test for the Rugby World Cup finalists than many observers are anticipating in Sunday's Six Nations clash at Murrayfield.
Les Bleus travel to Edinburgh having beaten Italy 30-12 before their match with Ireland was postponed and face a Scotland side seeking to avoid a fifth straight loss for the first time since 2004. Scotland impressed in narrow defeats to England and Wales and Harinordoquy predicts France may be required to spend long periods in defence on Sunday.
He told the French media: "Maybe the Scots frighten us offensively as the Irish scare us defensively. There are not many teams who are able to do that, hold the ball for four, five minutes.
"They move the ball quickly and move around a lot. It's still easier to have the ball than to defend. It takes a lot of energy (to defend) and we need to take the game by the throat and not let them advance down the field. Then it's up to us."
France travel to Edinburgh with head coach Philippe Saint-Andre having named the same starting XV and replacements' bench which had been due to play Ireland on February 11, only for the match to be postponed as a result of a frozen pitch at the Stade de France.
Biarritz back-row Harinordoquy was included as one of four changes, having started on the bench for the win over Italy. Harinordoquy, one of the world's leading line-out forwards, was included in place of Julien Bonnaire, with all four changes made in the pack. In the front row, Jean-Baptiste Poux comes in for Vincent Debaty at prop while hooker Dimitri Szarzewski replaces William Servat.
In the second row, Yoann Maestri has been given the nod ahead of Lionel Nallet and will make his first Test start. Morgan Parra retained the scrum-half jersey, with Dimitri Yachvili (back) still out.
France have beaten Scotland in 11 of the 12 previous Six Nations meetings - the only loss coming at Murrayfield in 2006. Despite recent results suggesting otherwise, Harinordoquy believes Scotland have been improving under Andy Robinson.
"This is a team that progresses from year to year," he added. "It is more mobile and more powerful than before and then they can keep the ball better today. It's really the team that you distrust. We must be vigilant otherwise there could be trouble."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown