Sunday 19 November 2017

Malzieu insists France 'do not have the right' to lose clash with Italians

Daniella Matar

France wing Julien Malzieu has urged his team-mates to attack from the off against Italy tomorrow, insisting Les Bleus "do not have the right" to lose their penultimate Six Nations clash.

Marc Lievremont's men are favourites to take the Grand Slam crown after seeing off Scotland, Ireland and Wales in their opening three matches.

Their final clash of the tournament against England has been billed as a mouth-watering tournament decider and Malzieu knows defeat to the Azzurri must be considered out of the question.

"In general, everything happens in the first 20 minutes against them," he said. "We know that we will have to immediately impose our rhythm and be more aggressive than them. They attack strongly? Very good, it's up to us to attack even stronger, to show that we are at home, that whatever they do, it will not come off.

"Victory is ours, we absolutely need it. We will be at home and we don't have the right to lose. We have the cards in our hands."

Italy have long been regarded as the tournament's whipping boys. However, in the last round of matches they beat Scotland 16-12 and earlier in the tournament England scraped a narrow win.


France will nevertheless be overwhelming favourites but Malzieu insists they cannot afford to be overconfident heading into the Stade de France meeting.

"We need to win it, and in style if possible," he said. "But it will be very difficulty because the Italians are aggressive. It's up to us to prepare for that and above all to apply ourselves to keeping the ball.

"They will pose us problems there but we have to succeed in disorganising them. After some time they will have difficulty in getting back and that will open up spaces for us. They are still lacking positioning in their organisation. We know it."

Malzieu has been dropped for the game in favour of Marc Andreu, who has played just three minutes for France -- against Wales last month. The 26-year-old admits he is disappointed after making his first start at the Millennium Stadium but claims he is happy with life as a replacement.

"I am a bit disappointed but when I think about the way I arrived here, I put things into perspective," said Malzieu. "I had to wait for three players to get injured to start against Wales."

France v Italy,

Live, tomorrow, RTE 2 & BBC 2, 2.30

FRANCE -- C Poitrenaud; M Andreu, D Marty, Y Jauzion, A Palisson; F Trinh-Duc, M Parra; T Domingo, W Servat, N Mas; L Nallet, J Pierre; T Dusautoir (capt), J Bonnaire, I Harinordoquy. Reps: D Szarzewski, JB Poux, S Chabal, A Lapandry, D Yachvili, M Bastareaud, J Malzieu.

ITALY -- L McLean; A Masi, G Canale, G Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco; C Gower, T Tebaldi; S Perugini, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni; Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami; J Sole, Mauro Bergamasco, A Zanni. Reps: F Ongaro, M Aguero, C Antonio Del Fava, P Derbyshire, P Canavosio, R Bocchino, K Robertson.

Irish Independent

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