Sacre Bleus! We Are in for Rough Ride, Say French; (1) Roaring Rory: Scotland Will Be Looking to Lamont to Take Them to Victory over France Tomorrow (2) No Time to Gel: Jean Baptiste Ellisalde (Left) Trains with the France Squad Ahead of Their Visit to Murrayfield. Ellisalde Knows Scotland Will Give the French a Good Game
Byline: CHRIS FOY
WHEN one of Frances most experienced players is predicting that thescratch team he finds himself in are likely to be average, at a push, Scotlandmust surely fancy their chances of an upset at Murrayfield tomorrow.
Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, the 30-year-old Toulouse scrum half, is feeling lostin a sea of new faces and the sensation has left him decidedly queasy.
Now that Marc Lievremont, Bernard Laportes successor as coach of Les Bleus, hasseized his new broom and swept away virtually every trace of the old order, thecurrent RBS Six Nations champions are not so much a work in progress as a roughsketch on the drawing board.
There are six uncapped players in the squad of 22 who will be on duty inEdinburgh. There are only two starting survivors from the XV who suffered theindignity of a 20-16 defeat against the same opponents, at the same venue, onthe corresponding weekend two years ago.
Amid the wreckage of the obliterated World Cup squad, Elissalde has been leftas one of the few stunned survivors, wondering what lies in store for France.After just a handful of days to bring all the unfamiliar elements together, heis not exactly awash with optimism.
Not everything will be perfect (on Sunday), he admits. At the very best, itwill be average, in my opinion. It is up to us to forge a character and winningmentality, because I think we are going to endure some very tough moments thisweekend.
It is very tricky to put everything in place. The squad are having to adapt tonew demands in just five days and four training sessions.
For hardy French supporters trekking up to snowy Scotland, these are not wordsto stir the soul. And it gets worse, as one of the new contingentSale prop Lionel Faure is also predicting trouble for the visitors.
There will be trouble for us at Murrayfield, he said. We will have to get thebetter of not only their front row but also my friend from Sale, Jason White,who can spark out an opponent with one tackle.
Having kept their coach, they have kept the continuity going for severalseasons and it is the same group of players as in the World Cup. …