France boss Guy Noves has revealed how he has fostered a change of mindset in his squad as he bids to start with a clean slate.
Long-time Toulouse coach Noves, who took the reins from Philippe Saint-Andrew after the disappointment of the World Cup, is focused firmly towards the future.
“I never thought about it as ‘France not having the results so we have to change everything’. But it’s true that the state of mind of the young players in the team was my first priority,” said Noves, speaking at the launch of the RBS 6 Nations at the Hurlingham Club in London yesterday. “I started working with the team during the World Cup in the shadows, while respecting the tournament and the coaching staff,” explained Novès,
“My first message was that they weren’t going on the pitch to enjoy themselves but to give the fans enjoyment.
“I say this with a lot of humility. We have a long way to go but it’s not an ambition, we have a responsibility. We know it will be very difficult.”
Noves has been busy trying to get his players used to a new game plan for the Six Nations, which they will begin against Italy.
“With my staff, over the last few weeks, we’ve tried to theorize to present the game plan to the players so they can take it in as quickly as possible and apply it on the field.
“If they can do that we want them to express all their personality so the French fans can be proud of them.”
Italy is another team in transition, and captain Sergio Parisse says this presents a big opportunity to some of their unheralded players.
“It’s going to be really tough at the beginning of the RBS 6 Nations for us. It’s a chance for the uncapped players.
“From our point of view with a lot of injuries we have to build confidence whatever the result.
“As captain, especially with the 10 uncapped players, my job is to try to help them and give them confidence.
“There is a lot of pressure when you play an international Test match. The majority have not played in stadiums like the Stade de France. It’s an opportunity for them.”
Two of Italy’s greatest moments in the tournament have come against the French, when they collected back-to-back home victories in Rome in 2011 and 2013.
However Paris has not been a happy hunting ground for them, and with a number of uncapped players included and some key men missing through injury, Parisse knows it will be a huge challenge to start with a win.
“The first matches are against France and England, with new coaches and new captains,” said the skipper.
“But that is not a weakness. I think they will be really excited to play.”
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