By Mitch Phillips
OITA, Japan (Reuters) – France back rower Gregory Alldritt says the squad have taken full advantage of their extra time off to study their World Cup quarter-final opponents Wales in even greater depth, but have yet to uncover a new reason why they keep losing to them.
With their final pool game against England cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis, France will have had two weeks to prepare for Sunday’s showdown in the southern Japanese city of Oita.
“We’ve had more time than expected to study our opponents and to work,” Alldritt told reporters on Wednesday. “We will have had two weeks without a match but we had high-intensity training sessions at the end of last week and on Monday.
“We tried to replicate match conditions so as to get the best out of it. It wouldn’t be correct to say we’ve had too much time before this match. I’d be more inclined to say that we’ve had enough time. I hope we’ll be ready for this weekend.”
Alldritt made his debut as a late replacement against Wales in the infamous Paris Six Nations game in February when his side blew a 16-0 lead to lose 24-19.
Sunday will be his 11th cap and he said he is still struggling to believe he is in Japan playing in a World Cup and not only that, but that his mobility and work-rate mean he has become the starting number eight ahead of the mighty Louis Picamoles.
“It probably still hasn’t sunk in what a journey I’ve been on,” he said. “Perhaps it will once the tournament is over when I see my family and friends. Two years ago I was playing in a reserves final in Federale 1 (for Auch in the French third division).”
Everyone in the French squad is painfully aware of their recent record against the Welsh – one win in their last eight matches – and Alldritt says there is no secret formula behind Warren Gatland’s team’s success.
“Every time we talk about Wales we say the same thing – this team have a clinical game, they do things simply but very well,” he said. “They never give up, they always maintain the same intensity for 80 minutes in big games.
“They also have good players in the back-row who can really impose their intensity. Justin Tipuric is the brains of that team towards the end of a match. He never gets tired.
“We’re not afraid, but we are wary.”
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Christian Radnedge)