France's youngsters prepare for Ireland step up
PARIS – France backs coach Jean-Baptiste Elissalde said on Sunday facing Ireland away from home in the Six Nations in two weeks’ time will be a step up from the 27-10 victory over Scotland.
It was les Bleus’ first win of this year’s championship and they avoided an 11th defeat in 14 games since Elissalde was brought into the coaching staff as Jacques Brunel started his tenure in December 2017.
“It will be another level, another atmosphere,” Elissalde said.
“On an individual level and collectively,” he added.
Elissalde compared only their fourth victory in 14 Tests since the start of 2018 to a painkiller after losses which included a 44-8 rout by England a fortnight ago.
“When you lose the doctor’s medicine doesn’t work but when you win it’s like a good dose of paracetamol.”
Elissalde praised his side’s efforts in scoring a fourth try after nine minutes of added time at the Stade de France.
“The character the team showed to claim that bonus point at the end of the game. It’s what we can build a team spirit around, and it’s what’s missing with this team,” he said.
The former scrum-half who played 35 Tests for France before retiring in 2008 believes winning in Dublin could be the next step for a young squad which includes inexperienced half-backs Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.
“It can be the next step for this team, the next step in continuing to build this team which we have done in a difficult situation,” he said.
“The construction of the team has been done in incredible scenarios in the past year with last-minute defeats where we lost control,” he added.
Dupont and Ntamack have only 14 international appearances between them and Elissalde defended their selection.
“We have no doubt when we put those players on the field. They’re there in the squad so we just have to be patient,” he said.
“They’re there because they respond well to the demands of the highest level,” he added.
Forwards coach Julien Bonnaire showed his appreciation of the rookies in the pack including 20-year-old prop Demba Bamba and four-time international lock Felix Lambey.
“Demba Bamba has enormous potential. He’s finding his feet with the team and is in the process of asserting himself.”
“People say Felix is too small but he tackles well around the ankles, can play lovely passes, we have been expecting him.
“All our youngsters bring something,” he added.
France face Joe Schmidt’s defending champions on March 10 looking for their first victory in Dublin since 2011.AFP