France will pay price if Italians are taken lightly, warns Noves
France coach Guy Noves has warned his players they are in no position to act high and mighty against Italy in Rome today.
Defeats to Ireland and England either side of a win over Scotland put France second bottom of the Six Nations standings heading into the fourth round of matches, with only the winless Italians beneath them.
They have Italy first and then Wales left to play, and a slip-up at the Stadio Olimpico would be another sporting embarrassment for France, following Paris St Germain's capitulation against Barcelona.
Noves said the surprising Champions League football result was a "life lesson" and added that "failure is part of the game", but he is determined his players should not trip up similarly, and so is directing them to show professionalism as they chase their second win of the Championship.
"We don't have the means to boast, to be a bit like England: to play Italy and look down on them," Noves said. "Our results don't let us do that. Therefore I hope that the players are well aware that Italy have got this match marked down. That's normal, especially after their performance in England.
"Nothing is written in advance. It will be a tough match."
Noves outlined why he has handed a debut to young Brive flanker Fabien Sanconnie.
Back-rower Sanconnie, 22, replaces Bernard Le Roux. Charles Ollivon's injury left Sanconnie as the outstanding option if Noves decided on a change.
"We needed someone of the same profile," said Noves. "We know he'll bring the enthusiasm of youth."