Pelous aiming to put heat on Wales up front

FRENCH skipper Fabien Pelous is aiming to match Ireland’s performance against Wales when he brings his Grand Slam-chasing side to Cardiff for Sunday’s RBS Six Nations clash.

"We will take a leaf out of Ireland's book in order to beat Wales next week," admitted Pelous yesterday.

"I haven't seen the video yet, but I've heard that Ireland were very efficient in a number of areas. That is where we will get our inspiration to face Wales.

"If that means turning up the heat up front, so be it," Pelous said.

The French comfortably beat Ireland in their opening match at Stade de France and added the scalp of Italy last weekend with No. 8 Imanol Harinordoquy getting two tries.

But Pelous isn't taking anything for granted following Wales' 36-15 defeat in Dublin. He ranked the Welsh as one of the most-improved sides at the World Cup.

"I will be expecting a tough game because Wales have a number of talented players, notably Shane Williams who was the revelation of the World Cup in my eyes," he said.

"Wales surprised a lot of people in the World Cup by rejuvenating their playing squad. That allowed them to produce such inspiring performances, especially against New Zealand."

Pelous will make his 10th appearance against Wales on Sunday. It will be his 89th cap and his 21st as captain since making his debut against Romania back in 1995.

"I got one of my first championship caps against Wales at the old Cardiff Arms Park. I have been on the losing side to Wales on plenty of occasions since, including a defeat as captain at the Stade de France in 2001.

"Next weekend I will be happy with a narrow victory if that means my winning run as captain continues a bit longer this time around.

"I was last captain for two seasons in 2000 and 2001 and things were a lot more difficult then. There were constantly a lot of changes in the team through players leaving international rugby after the 1999 World Cup and through injuries and my record as captain was unimpressive to say the least.

"The squad is a lot more stable now and I feel I have a more mature approach to the job too. Above all, it is the results that count and with two wins out of two, I have to be satisfied.

"This team is full of good intentions and although we still have to work on our execution, things are going to plan at the moment and the spirit in the side is from the top drawer," he said.

France have lost utility back Pepito Elhorga for the game after the Agen player pulled a calf muscle. Elhorga, who can play at full-back or on the wing, has been replaced by Cedric Heymans of Toulouse, who returns to the national squad for his fifth selection for the first time since appearing in the 20-20 draw against New Zealand in November 2002.

Coach Bernard Laporte will name his team tomorrow.

Prop Ben Evans has been called into the Wales squad in place of the injured Adam Jones, for the meeting with France. Jones was carried off with an ankle injury in the Ospreys' 18-15 Celtic League win in Munster on Friday and could be out for up to six weeks.

Wales coach Steve Hansen was already expected to reshuffle his pack after the demoralising defeat to Ireland at Lansdowne Road.

"Ben has been performing well for his region in recent weeks and now has the opportunity to reclaim his place in the squad," said Hansen.

"Adam will be missed both on and off the field, but he is a young man and he will bounce back from this current setback. We are lucky to have Gethin Jenkins and now Ben who can come into the squad and do the job and we will be looking for both of them to take their chance."

Captain Colin Charvis should return after missing the trip to Dublin with a dislocated index finger.

Jones' role in the team has been questioned because of Hansen's policy of replacing him at tight head with Gethin Jenkins after just 30 minutes of the last four games.

Hansen has pinpointed the fitness levels of Jones as the reason for his early exits from the field.

Jenkins will now probably step up for his first start in a Wales jersey since the World Cup clash against Tonga.

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