France prepare to host in-form Wallabies

After scarcely convincing wins against Argentina and the Pacific Islanders, France face a sterner challenge on Saturday as they host an Australian side buoyed by a famous win at Twickenham against England last week.


Australia coach Robbie Deans has warned his Wallabies to beware a wounded French side who'll be bent on revenge on Saturday for the maulings they suffered on their summer tour.

France, with a host of top names missing, slumped to 34-13 and 40-10 defeats in June and then came under fire from Australian rugby chiefs who threatened to pull the plug on their northern hemisphere visits in response to second-string sides being despatched their way.

"We expect a very different match," said New Zealand-born Deans.

"The French are not the same team and they are going to be better thanks to the experience they have had against us. They will have learnt from our matches and they will be very motivated in front of their home crowd.

"Also, France arrived in Australia in June at the end of a very long season. The circumstamces were very different. They are fresh and the players are battling for places in the Six Nations next year."

Australia enjoyed a 28-14 win over England at Twickenham last weekend having squeezed past Italy 30-20 and Deans is expecting an open feast of running rugby at the Stade de France here on Saturday.

"Both teams like to play. We have been playing very offensively this year but to be honest our running game has probably been one of our principal weak points on this tour," said Deans.

The coach also played down the row over weakened teams being sent to the southern hemisphere, a controversy which prompted French coach Marc Lievremont to label Australia's attitude as "condescending".

"We love playing against France and we would travel anywhere to face them," said Deans.

"We like that they come to Australia as often as possible to play because they are a great rugby nation. I don't know where this suggestion (of a northern hemisphere tour boycott) came from but it certainly wasn't either the players or staff."

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