Tuesday 21 August 2018

Jacques Brunel keen to keep French focus fully on Six Nations challenge

Brunel has replaced the sacked Guy Noves.

Jacques Brunel
Jacques Brunel

By Press Association Sport staff

Jacques Brunel insists France will not be distracted by any off-field issues circling Les Bleus ahead of the NatWest 6 Nations.

French police searched the French Rugby Federation (FFR) headquarters on Tuesday, with the operation believed to be in relation to investigations into the national body’s president, Bernard Laporte.

Laporte is under scrutiny for allegedly pressuring the FFR appeals committee to reduce sanctions against Montpellier last year.

New France coach Brunel remains adamant he can protect his squad from such issues, however, ahead of the Six Nations opener against Ireland in Paris on February 3.

“All the problems surrounding all those issues have had no influence on us whatsoever,” said Brunel.

“We don’t know what’s happening, we have been kept separate from all of that, and so we haven’t been influenced by that at all.”

France have struggled in the Six Nations since last lifting the trophy in 2010, and former Italy boss Brunel has been drafted in to replace the sacked Guy Noves.

Brunel insists France can compete for the title, despite struggling in recent years and boasting a revamped squad.

“We want to be contenders throughout the tournament. We’re fully focused on the first match, but we’ll try to be contenders,” said Brunel.

“The first thing we have to do is create a common ambition, a common story where we feel at ease.”

Hooker Guilhem Guirado has been retained as captain, and he believes France can benefit from his previous working relationship with Brunel from their time together at Perpignan.

“I know Jacques from Perpignan and that’s a great time-saver. I understand his methods, his way of working and what he wants from a team,” said Guirado.

“That can be important for us in the next few weeks and months.

“It’s been great to have face-to-face meetings (with Brunel) and be honest about the situation.

“I’ve felt very frustrated and disappointed after the autumn matches but there was no time to dwell on things afterwards.

“Since then I felt I’ve performed very well for my club, so hopefully I can transfer that form to the national team now.

“Our new generation have already shown what they can do in the Champions Cup and now it’s time to transfer that.”

Press Association

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