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Fabien Galthié: “The French team is not the story of one person”

How do you feel after testing positive for Covid-19?
I feel good. I had a few minor symptoms on Wednesday. I went into isolation. We got tested in the morning, and I was negative. I had symptoms at the end of the day, went to the doctor and got tested again. I was in solitary confinement and yesterday (Thursday), we had confirmation with a PCR test. We followed the protocol to the letter.

How will the rest of the week unfold?
On Wednesday, the team was announced to the players. Thursday was a day off. Today (friday), we go back to Paris. But everything is set for Sunday’s game (4 p.m., v Italy). Since I am isolated, I participate in all meetings by video or audio. I watch the images of training, the staff takes over under the leadership of Raphaël Ibanez. Sunday, I will be at a distance with a phone and a few brief exchanges, before, after, at halftime…

Regarding the composition of the team that will face Italy, why did you choose Dylan Cretin as the wing third line?
He is there all the time, he trains with us, he is in all the competitions, on all the tours. We played twenty test matches, he has thirteen selections. What makes him start is first of all his level of play and the complementarity he can have. The France team is not the story of one person, it is a search for complementarity, for collective experience.

“You have to find the right balance between power on the ground and air presence”

Cameron Woki, again in second line, has he settled in this position?
No. There are no players installed in the France team. Cameron is a young player, on the upswing of his development. His presence is explained by the experience of the match against the All Blacks(40-25 win, November 20). He had already played second line in Australia, and we must integrate the absence of players like Thibaud Flament, who counts in our group by his aerial profile, and like Kilian Geraci, injured. We studied the possibility of reintegrating Bernard Le Roux, in another profile.

Combining two of the best jumpers in the Top 14 is also to ensure aerial superiority at the expense of a loss of density?
They have qualities, and not just in touch. They are two players very involved in the aerial conquest strategy. You have to find the right balance between power on the ground and air presence. It seems to us that other players can bring a presence on the ground, it seems to me that we have found a balance for this match.

Girondin scrum-half Maxime Lucu in action, ready to compensate for the absence of Antoine Dupont if necessary. (A. Réau/The Team)

“We are preparing for all eventualities, with last minute packages, because we have a last health test on Saturday morning”

And you opted for a bench with five forwards and three backs…
In a bench at 5-3, you have to make choices in the pack of forwards. We will have Romain Taofifenua and François Cros as finishers. We took three three-quarters, which we hadn’t done in November. We are preparing for all eventualities, with last minute packages, because we have a last health test on Saturday morning. We are preparing to modify the lines, without damaging the confidence of the team. In training, Maxime Lucu played in 9, Thomas Ramos in 10, Gaël Fickou at the back, Dylan Cretin on a wing, Yoram Moefana, who can cover four positions, in the center with Damian Penaud. Matthieu Jalibert is considered a little fair: he had a succession of injuries, he is fine but we still had to take time. Thomas Ramos is more suited to cover two positions.

Aren’t you afraid that some executives, like Romain Ntamack or Antoine Dupont who had the Covid, lack freshness?
I don’t know if freshness is the right word. The freshness, they will have because they have played little. It’s interesting because it’s the first time in the Tournament that we’re going to be confronted with this new deal. Typically, they arrive with ten matches. The question is rather on the level of form. Our training method so far has allowed us to get the players ready for Sunday’s game in no time. For Toulouse, we barely had a week but we managed to find the right balance. It was our best preparation so far. We are on a mission. »


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