Quinnell backs Wales for upset
February 23, 2007
Former captain Scott Quinnell has backed Wales to overturn the odds and beat France on Saturday - just as his side did so famously eight years ago.
Wales head to Paris at their lowest ebb since 2003 having managed just two victories - over Canada and the Pacific Islands - in 10 Tests over the last year.
The manner of Wales' defeat to Scotland two weekends ago prompted a stream of criticism aimed at head coach Gareth Jenkins and captain Stephen Jones.
Another defeat at the Stade de France tomorrow night would leave Wales in real danger of ending Jenkins' first championship in charge with the wooden spoon.
Graham Henry's team of 1999 were in a similar slump but their stunning victory over France proved the catalyst for a famous 10-game unbeaten streak.
And that is why Quinnell believes Wales are just one performance away from turning the corner.
"When we went out to France in 1999 nobody gave us a chance," he said.
"We were getting battered in the press after defeats against Scotland and Ireland and people were not happy.
"But we turned things around in France and went on to win 10 games in a row.
"It shows how quickly things can turn around and things can definitely change for this side as well.
"There is a lot of quality in this Welsh side and I would not rule out them winning out there again."
Amazingly, given their fluctuating fortunes, Wales won in Paris again in 2001 and 2005, the latter proving to be the seminal triumph in their Grand Slam campaign.
Martyn Williams scored two tries shortly after the interval as Wales hit back from a first-half hammering to take the lead.
Jones, now team skipper, sparked the comeback with a brilliant counter-attack from his own half and the Welsh pack launched a ferocious defence in the closing minutes to keep France at bay.
Quinnell believes Wales will require a similarly powerful defensive performance at the Stade de France on Saturday night.
Shane Williams and Tom Shanklin are back in the starting XV while the return of Gethin Jenkins, Chris Horsman and Ian Gough has beefed up the pack.
And Quinnell told the South Wales Echo: "Wales have got a good recent record in France and a lot of it is down to individual brilliance.
"Two years ago it was Martyn Williams who produced that stunning performance.
"And it might take something like that again from someone like Tom Shanklin, Shane Williams or Mark Jones for Wales to win on Saturday."
France: C Poitrenaud (Toulouse); V Clerc (Toulouse), D Marty (Perpignan), Y Jauzion (Toulouse), C Dominici (Stade Francais); D Skrela (Stade Francais), P Mignoni (Clermont-Auvergne); O Milloud (Bourgoin), R Ibanez (Wasps, capt), N Mas (Perpignan), L Nallet (Castres), J Thion (Biarritz), S Betsen (Biarritz), J Bonnaire (Bourgoin), E Vermeulen (Clermont-Auvergne).
Replacements: B August (Biarritz), S Marconnet (Stade Francais), G Lamboley (Toulouse), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz), D Yachvili (Biarritz), L Beauxis (Stade Francais), A Rougerie (Clermont-Auvergne).
Replacements: R Thomas (Cardiff Blues), D Jones (Ospreys), B Cockbain (Ospreys), J Thomas (Ospreys), M Phillips (Cardiff Blues), C Sweeney (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Robinson (Cardiff Blues).
Referee: T Spreadbury (England).
Touch judges: A Lewis, S McDowell (both Ireland).
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