Clerc ready for 'class act' Wales
France wing Vincent Clerc believes Wales will pose a huge threat to Les Bleus' World Cup ambitions on Saturday when the Six Nations rivals battle it out.
Clerc and company have made the semi-finals for a third successive tournament, having lost to England in 2003 and 2007, while Wales are already guaranteed their best World Cup campaign since finishing third 24 years ago. And while recent form should make France marginal favourites, Toulouse star Clerc expects a ferocious examination.
"The Welsh team has had some great matches in this tournament," he said. "We must not rest on our laurels. The Welsh team has been very strong, although they have weaknesses, and we are looking to target those weaknesses. They have some very strong players, very dynamic. They are a real class act - we love playing against them."
Clerc underlined how high motivation is in the French camp to erase memories of recent semi-final failures, despite a tournament when they lost against New Zealand and were then stunned by Tonga.
"There is a huge amount of pressure in the knockout games," he added. "We know what it is like to be knocked out, and it made it all the more disappointing that we were eliminated in France last time. People will understand how motivated I am.
"As a squad we are very motivated. We know this could be the end for us, so it is an important moment. We have been given an opportunity, and we need to make the most of it."
France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili, who has been troubled by a thigh injury, has no doubt about his fitness for the Eden Park clash, and he supports Clerc's theory that Wales will be dangerous opponents.
He said: "We have beaten Wales three times in the last three years, but we also know they have improved, especially with so many young players in their team.
"Wales are a team that uses space on the field, and their defence is immense. I think they have been under-estimated.
"In your professional career, a World Cup semi-final is an exceptional moment, and we are going to have to go after Wales and exert a lot of pressure."