Powerful No 8 Gregory Alldritt said France have the “weapons” to match the physicality of the Springboks when the World Cup hosts and defending champions clash on Sunday.
In what promises to be a blockbuster quarter-final between two of the world’s top teams, the Boks and Les Bleus are set to lock horns at a jam-packed Stade de France.
The recent tussle between South Africa and France saw Fabien Galthie’s charges triumph 30-26 in Marseille last November, and skipper Antoine Dupont’s return from a fractured cheekbone will provide the French with a significant lift as they look to continue their quest to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time.
Speaking to the media in the buildup to this weekend’s playoff in Paris, Alldritt addressed the physical challenge posed by the formidable Bok pack, while highlighting that France plan to ‘protect’ Dupont.
“We know that in rugby, if you touch the head, it’s a red card. He [Dupont] saw his surgeon who gave him the green light. Antoine is an intelligent, sensible person,” Alldritt told reporters.
“We’re making progress match by match. So are they. We know how they’re going to play. Their DNA, their rugby, is based on physicality.
“It’s up to us to put in more intensity than usual for 80 minutes. As we saw in Marseille [in November], they’re a team that stays in the game for 80 minutes. We’ve been warned.
“I think [Bok loose forwards] are a reflection of the team, a back row that gives a lot in defence and attack for 80 minutes. It’s a great challenge. It’s going to be a great battle. We’re looking forward to it.”
He added: “We have players who also hit hard. We forget that at times. We’re lucky to have players like Damian [Penaud] and Antoine.
“We also have players like Jo [Jonathan Danty], Uini [Atonio], Peato [Mauvaka], Cyril [Baille], Tao [Romain Taofifenua]… I think we have the weapons to respond. We have to do even better and even more than usual against South Africa, but I’m not worried.”
France progressed to the knockout stage having topped Pool A unbeaten after four wins that included a historic victory against the All Blacks in the opening match.
“We’re continuing to work as we have been,” Alldritt said. We’re trying to study every aspect of this match; we’re not leaving anything to chance. We’ve worked hard on this for four years.
We’ve played some big games, both with our clubs and with the French national team. The opening match was complicated, but we were ahead by half-time. I hope it’ll be the same this weekend.
“We’re coming down the home straight. We want to enjoy ourselves, have a lot of fun and finish this competition with no regrets.”
Photo: Mohammed Badra/EPA