Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Smith excited by France challenge

Brian Smith
Brian Smith

England attack coach Brian Smith has told Marc Lievremont that Saturday's RBS 6 Nations collision with France did not need spicing up.

The rivals meet at Twickenham in a mouth-watering showdown that should decide the destination of the title. France coach Lievremont lit the fuse earlier in the week when he stated the Grand Slam champions dislike the English, though Smith believes his comments were unnecessary.

"Marc got the ball rolling pretty early and put a marker down to their squad to say 'it's going to be a battle'," he said. "He got the war cry out nice and early and that's a signal for his squad to put them on notice. It hasn't gone unnoticed in our camp but whether he said anything or not we were expecting it to be titanic."

He added: "We are excited by the challenge, we know it is going to be a big physical battle.

"We hope the conditions are good enough for both teams to play a bit.

"The best rugby team is going to win and we hope through our performance we'll come out on top."

Lievremont has made five changes, one positional, on the basis of squad rotation.

Sebastien Chabal, Vincent Clerc, Dimitri Yachvili and Yannick Jauzion have been recalled while Maxime Medard switches from wing to full-back to replace Clement Poitrenaud.

The biggest casualty is goal-kicking scrum-half Morgan Parra and, given it is such a big match in a World Cup year, tinkering with the line-up could be viewed as risky.

"It's a strong French squad and Marc Lievremont has shown he's prepared to roll the dice with his selections," said Smith. "We've got huge respect for them as a squad and we know we are going to be in for a hell of a battle on Saturday."

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