Monday 18 November 2019

Beware of French backlash, Brennan warns Ireland

Rugby

Trevor Brennan in action for Ireland at Lansdowne Road in 1999
Trevor Brennan in action for Ireland at Lansdowne Road in 1999
David Kelly

David Kelly

Trevor Brennan has warned of a Stade de France backlash ahead of Saturday's Six Nations title decider on a day of further turmoil in the French camp after prop Nicolas Mas walked out of a press conference at their Marcoussis base.

Former coach Bernard Laporte also issued an astonishing tirade against current boss Philippe Saint-Andre, claiming he was "taking the piss" after another unconvincing win against Scotland last weekend.

However, Brennan – the most decorated Irish export to the Top 14 – has warned that the under-fire French players could plot a rebellion to save face in front of their bloodthirsty home fans.

"France once got to a World Cup final after losing to Tonga in the pool stages," said Brennan, referring to the 2011 tournament in New Zealand.

"In the semi-final, the fellas took it over. I know that from talking to William Servat. The players did the training sessions. Maybe the same could happen here again, it's the last game, they've nothing to lose and they're in Paris in front of their home crowd. There's that sense of pride. They could pull something out which is incredible."

Mas stormed out of the press conference when, after repeated questioning about the poor scrummaging display in France, one journalist suggested that the French were deliberately trying to underperform.

Former French hooker Vincent Moscato has joined the chorus of criticism raining down on Saint-Andre – statistically the worst French coach of the professional era – whose reign has included quirky selections and no clear game plan.

"He's not a politician, he doesn't have to lie!" blasted Moscato. "It's rugby, he could be honest and admit, 'We got lucky, we were bad as pigs but we got away with it'. But he won't get fired. No one ever does from that post, so he doesn't care."

The Ireland camp was a relative oasis of calm yesterday as Joe Schmidt continues his side's preparations, with Peter O'Mahony expected to return from injury to replace Iain Henderson.

Conor Murray is also likely to fend off challenger Eoin Reddan despite his early departure with what seemed to be a concussive knock but which was later confirmed to be a result of "nausea".

Irish Independent

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