Double hit of Jefferson Poirot and Uini Atonio set to blast Ireland

France will blast Ireland with the “double hit” of new props Jefferson Poirot and Uini Atonio in tomorrow’s Six Nations battle in Paris, according to Guy Noves.
Double hit of Jefferson Poirot and Uini Atonio set to blast Ireland

Head coach Noves has backed his revamped front-row to cause Ireland headaches — but insisted Rabah Slimani and Eddy Ben Arous have “proved their quality” despite demotion to France’s bench.

Les Bleus’ new boss has made six changes from the 23-21 victory over Italy last weekend for the visit of Ireland, Alexandre Flanquart and Yacouba Camara also slotting into the pack.

Teddy Thomas and Maxime Mermoz start in the backline, but Noves was at pains to insist his selection “tickle” does not represent criticism of those dropping out.

“Slimani and Ben Arous proved their quality against Italy,” said Noves. “The fact that they don’t start will annoy them, but it is not a penalty. It is a small form of challenge. In the meantime Jefferson Poirot and Uini Atonio will give us a double hit from the start.”

Poirot will make his first Test start this weekend after his debut off the bench in the edgy victory over Italy in Paris on Saturday.

France boss Noves insists there is no risk in promoting the 23-year-old Bordeaux prop despite his lack of international experience.

“This is not a gamble, it’s a wise choice,” said Noves.

Noves has kept faith with half-back duo Sebastien Bezy and Jules Plisson, and backed the pairing to drive the pace against Ireland. Toulouse scrum-half Bezy missed three straight shots at goal against Italy, clearly overawed by the occasion. Noves backed the 24-year-old to cope with his continued Test transition.

“You have to give them playing time to see what they can do,” said Noves.

“Bezy hasn’t become poor overnight by missing three kicks last week.”

Sevens star Virimi Vakatawa has kept his place on France’s wing after his try-scoring Test debut against the Italians.

Noves believes France will raise their game after a tentative showing in his debut match at the helm last week.

“We’ve worked on our defensive organisation to try to counter the Irish,” he said.

“It will be a difficult match, we hope it will be tricky for Ireland too. We’ve prepared for this match by getting it into our heads that we have to show more power. I do not know if we will win this weekend — but we’ve had a good week.”

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