France v Scotland, Six Nations Championship, February 14
Nallet admits fears for starting place
February 11, 2009
France skipper Lionel Nallet has admitted that he fears for his starting place © Getty Images
France skipper Lionel Nallet has admitted that his place in the side is under threat after some stuttering performances. Nallet, 32, was a surprise selection as captain following the 2007 World Cup but he followed his appointment will some excellent form during last season's Six Nations. Since then however the Castres second-row has struggled with injury and a drop in form has seen calls for him to be replaced in the French engine-room.
"I do feel threatened," he said. "In any case I have never considered myself a definite starter, captain or not captain. But if I felt I was lacking something in the autumn, now I feel good. I was not exceptional [against Ireland] but I think I got round the pitch a lot and put in a great deal of work at the breakdown.
"It's true that I wasn't seen too much with the ball in hand and I think it's for that reason that people are reacting. I am conscious that I haven't put in a perfect performance. But honestly, it is better than this autumn. This match did me some good in terms of intensity and got me back involved. We will see this weekend."
Nallet's second-row partner against Ireland, Sebastien Chabal, has been dropped to the bench after his work-rate was criticised but Nallet has thus far survived and will now partner Romain Millo-Chluski against Scotland.
While Nallet is a respected presence on field, he has admitted that some of his instructions got lost in the melee as Ireland pulled away for victory.
"Until now, there hasn't been a problem with communication," he said. "But there we were lacking. We went missing in this department. I don't know why the messages weren't getting through. I asked for us to play a little less in our own 22 because we were putting ourselves in danger and we were having problems at the breakdown.
"That wasn't followed too well because we were chasing the scoreboard and we wanted to keep the ball in hand to score. But we should have been trying to kick the ball clear."
France coach Marc Lievremont has maintained that Nallet is the right man to lead the side forward, and singled out his attitude as a good example for player such as Yannick Jauzion to follow.
"I am very satisfied because he is rediscovering his rhythm," Lievremont said. "After an enormous (2007-08) season, he got injured. But he gave us some satisfaction in November and that is still the case today. He is a player who is extremely consistent and present and he is exemplary in battle.
"He is also exemplary in daily life and in training. It is up to us to make the half-backs and other players like Yannick Jauzion more responsible."
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