Saint-Andre promises French desire
February 3, 2012
Philippe Saint-Andre has promised 'humility and desire' from his France side © Getty Images
Philippe Saint-Andre, the France coach, has promised that his team will play with "humility and desire" in Saturday's Six Nations opener against Italy in Paris.
The home side begin the tournament as favourites, following their appearance in last year's Rugby World Cup Final, but their new boss is keen to keep a lid on expectations against tough opposition.
Italy are expected to struggle at the Stade de France, but will not fear their hosts after last year's watershed 22-21 victory over Les Bleus in Rome.
"We shouldn't believe that the match against Italy will be easy," Saint-Andre said. "We will play with a lot of humility and desire. We will try to do anything to start well in this competition."
While Saint-Andre has largely relied on well-worn combinations - 10 of his side began October's World Cup loss to the All Blacks - Italy's new chief, ex-Perpignan coach Jacques Brunel, is keen to see something new from his players.
The former France assistant has handed a debut to winger Giovanbattista Venditti, while South African-born scrum-half Tobie Botes starts among the replacements. Wesley Fofana, the highly-rated Clermont Auvergne centre, wins his first cap for France.
"I believe in the potential of this team. I am sure it has a future," Brunel said. "France's goal is to win the Six Nations. Ours is to produce a different type of rugby from the past."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter