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Revenge is not our goal, says Freddie

By Gavin Mairs

Frederic Michalak insists revenge is not on the menu when France meet England on Saturday in a repeat of the 2003 World Cup semi-final.

Mercurial fly-half Michalak was part of the French team beaten 24-7 by Clive Woodward's men in the rain in Sydney four years ago.

England famously went on to win that tournament and will be looking for a repeat in Paris at the weekend in a last-four battle of the northern hemisphere giants.

That 2003 defeat still hurts the French squad, but Michalak maintains things have moved on since then.

"It is another adventure now," he said. "Four years have passed since.

"It is not the same England team, while we are also another team.

"What we know is that England will always worry us, that the matches against them will be hard-fought and difficult.

"England are in the same position as us. They were at the depths at the start of the tournament but then the team has grown through their victories."

Michalak is looking to regain his place in the starting line-up after losing out to Lionel Beauxis for the 20-18 win against New Zealand in Saturday's extraordinary quarter-final in Cardiff.

The future Natal Sharks number 10 turned the game against the All Blacks, setting up Yannick Jauzion for what proved to be the match-winning try.

Head coach Bernard Laporte names his side tomorrow and Michalak should be recalled, although David Skrela will also be pushing for the fly-half spot.

Laporte is injury-free in that position, but he has a host of problems to contend with in other areas of his team.

The victory over the All Blacks has taken its toll, with 10 players currently nursing injuries sustained during that Millennium Stadium contest.

Serge Betsen staggered off after just five minutes having taken a knee to the back of the head, but the Biarritz flanker is expected to be back in training tomorrow.

The prognosis on prop Olivier Milloud, who did not reappear after the interval against the Kiwis, was not so encouraging.

Team doctor Thierry Hermerel confirmed the Bourgoin star has a neck injury and he is a major doubt for England.

Hermerel also revealed a worrying list of minor injuries that will concern Laporte as he prepares for the crunch date with the world champions.

He said: "Thierry Dusautoir has a bruised hip, Vincent Clerc has hurt his back, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde took a blow to his kneecap, another to his right shoulder, and a strain to the thumb and index finger of his right hand.

"Cedric Heymans has a strain on his right hand, Julien Bonnaire bruising on his backside and calf, and Jerome Thion a tear to his right thigh.

"Dimitri Szarzewski has hurt his shoulder and Yannick Jauzion has bruising to his left eye."

Most of those players are, however, expected to be fit for this weekend.

Les Bleus were given the day off yesterday as they made their way back to Paris from Cardiff, but they will be back in training today.

Meanwhile, French Federation president Bernard Lapasset yesterday confirmed a replacement for departing coach Laporte would be announced two to three weeks after the conclusion of the World Cup. Wales caretaker coach Nigel Davies admits he is not expecting to be retained by the Welsh Rugby Union after the one-off clash with South Africa on November 24.

With WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis and chairman David Pickering flying to New Zealand today to start their recruitment drive for a long-term successor to Gareth Jenkins - sacked after the World Cup defeat to Fiji - Davies is under no illusions about his future.

"I'm realistic that after the seven weeks is up it will be time for me to move on," said Jenkins' assistant.

Belfast Telegraph


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