Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll is expecting a lively encounter with Mathieu Bastareaud when they square up in midfield on Saturday.
The French outside centre dwarfs him.
It says everything about the predominance of football — association-style — and the wider public’s awareness of it that the fact Bastareaud is a cousin of Arsenal defender William Gallas tends to be highlighted at least as much as his own rugby-playing credentials, and that includes the oval ball game’s Press corps.
Gallas is never described by soccer scribes as being a cousin of the French centre, note.
The terrifyingly built man-mountain of a midfielder is more than capable of standing solidly on his own two feet, however. Measuring six feet in his sock soles and tilting the scales at a hefty 17st 3lbs he can make his own case. Certainly he made a case for himself last weekend by scoring a brace of first-half tries against Scotland at Murrayfield.
But 5ft 10ins and 15st O’Driscoll showed no sign of fear of him at yesterday afternoon’s announcement of the team to face France this weekend. Indeed, he made light of the physical differential by saying: “I’ll treat this like any other opposition I play against.
“It just happens that he’s four stone heavier!”
O’Driscoll conceded: “He’s a powerful guy and he looks to be very much one of their in-form players. He gives them great go-forward and he’s a quick enough guy considering the size of him.
“He seems to be a handful, but like any centre pairing Darce (Gordon D’Arcy) and I play against we like to think we’ll give them as much trouble as they give us.
“Eighteen and half stone in a straight line is one thing, but it doesn’t necessarily shift as well when you run to the side of it.
“It’s our role to make sure that we don’t give him easy shots, try not to let him get into the game and to make sure that we make him work hard.
“There’s a whole back line and the second you start thinking about one individual the threats come from elsewhere.”