Louis Bielle-Biarrey said France expect a physical battle in midfield against the Springboks on Sunday, but Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse pose as much a threat.
Les Bleus topped Pool A and will take on defending World Cup champions South Africa at the Stade de France in the last of the quarter-finals this weekend.
Bok head coach Jacques Nienaber is expected to name his match-day 23 on Friday, and pint-sized speedsters Kolbe and Arendse are likely to start in an exciting back three with fullback Damian Willemse.
Kolbe played a pivotal role for SA in winning the 2019 World Cup and the British & Irish Lions series victory in 2021, and his ability to change the game with a single run or a dazzling step have become a source of inspiration for fans worldwide.
Arendse has continued his remarkable scoring record by grabbing five tries in 2023 as the Boks look to continue their path towards defending the Webb Ellis Cup.
Speaking at a France conference on Monday, Bielle-Biarrey addressed the challenge of tackling the South Africans in Paris: “We’re expecting a very physical match, especially in the midfield.
“On the wings, they have smaller but quick and impactful players. There will be less spaces, so we’ll need to play smart and be accurate.”
On whether he discussed France’s 30-26 victory against the Boks last November with the players who took part in this match, the winger told reporters: “They said they are a very physical team and that it was a high-intensity rugby match.
“It’s going to be a big challenge in terms of physicality. They also said it was one of the hardest matches they have ever played.”
Handre Pollard and Manie Libbok will vie for the Bok No 10 jumper this weekend, but Matthieu Jalibert is set to call the shots for the French after replacing injured first-choice Romain Ntamack at the tournament.
“Matthieu is doing very well at replacing Romain. In this quarter-final, he is in one of the key positions to win the match,” Bielle-Biarrey said.
“We will need him to create some situations, to be accurate and to play smart.
“Matthieu is used to playing these kind of matches, he’s got some caps under his belt. I don’t think he’s putting pressure on himself. As often, he’ll be up to the challenge.”
Photo: Sylvain Thomas/AFP