Bonnaire: Les Bleus ready for battle

Julien Bonnaire has promised there will be no fear in the France ranks when Marc Lievremont’s troops run out at Twickenham on Saturday.

Julien Bonnaire has promised there will be no fear in the France ranks when Marc Lievremont’s troops run out at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Clermont Auvergne flanker has surprisingly been relegated to the bench for the match known as ’Le Crunch’, having started in France’s opening victories over Scotland and Ireland.

Both France and England have perfect records after the opening two rounds of matches, and Martin Johnson’s home side are hot favourites to emerge from the tea-time contest with their 100% status intact.

Bonnaire, 32, has admitted that he could not leave his house for a week after France’s last visit to Twickenham for fear of the abuse he might take, after England drubbed Les Bleus 34-10 in 2009.

It was, Bonnaire said, “a total debacle” for France, who should certainly not be such walkovers this weekend.

“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Bonnaire said.

“We are going there without pressure but with determination to enjoy ourselves. We have no reason to envy the English.

“We also have quality players. We have points to make. We know what to expect, a physical challenge from the start of the match. I think Tom Palmer said he wanted to reduce the French to mush. We’ll see.”

Coach Lievremont was disappointed with aspects of France’s performance against Ireland in Dublin, spurring him to make four personnel changes for the England trip.

Speaking to Midi Olympique magazine’s website, rugbyrama.fr, Bonnaire said: “Some things weren’t extraordinary and we still have a lot of details to sort out. But the most important thing was to win.

“After that, we must continue working to be more efficient. We know we can do much better.

However, it is never easy to win in Ireland, therefore it’s very important for confidence.”

France full-back Maxime Medard today said he was “99%” of being fit to play on Saturday.

The 24-year-old has been selected in Lievremont’s starting line-up, but doubts over his involvement emerged due to a hamstring problem and he has been closely monitored this week.

Versatile Toulouse player Medard, who has switched from the wing for the match, underwent a fitness test this afternoon.

Speaking beforehand, Medard told www.lequipe.fr: “It’s getting better. Even if there is still a little discomfort.

“I had another MRI scan this morning. But there is nothing in particular.”

Medard suffered his injury in a training session on Monday, and said: “I felt it pull. I give myself a 99% chance of playing.”

Clement Poitrenaud and Damien Traille would be contenders to step in for Medard if he is ruled out.

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