Former flanker Serge Betsen has described Eddie Jones, the England head coach decision to pick the same back row that faced Scotland when they meet France as “funny and amazing”.
In their previous Six Nations outing, England conceded nine turnovers at the breakdown as they lost 25-13 to Scotland.
For Saturday’s clash, Jones has kept faith with Courtney Lawes, Chris Robshaw and Nathan Hughes for the trip to the Stade de France in Paris.
Betsen won 63 caps for France between 1997 and 2007. He said: “It’s really funny Jones has challenged the back row to beat France with that style of play. France will target the breakdown and are going to follow what Scotland managed to do against England.
“In the back row England have got some second rows who maybe have less speed and who are really tall. It’s a handicap for them in that aspect of the game. The French forwards are really effective in that area and especially a player like [prop] Jefferson Poirot.
“Wenceslas Lauret and Yacouba Camara are experts in the back row and Marco Tauleigne will bring a lot of dynamism in open play. At the moment, with the players we have available, this is the best back row we have.”
“Technically we got the breakdown wrong against Scotland and they were much better than us in that area, but we’ll get it right for France. We didn’t adjust to the referee’s interpretations, which is disappointing and something we can learn from.”
Chris Ashton said: “The way he played against Italy, you could see he’d had to wait for that. He had to wait some time to get back in and get a starting place. He took his chance and played unbelievably well.”
“The only way you can target Bastareaud is by making the game fast. If they manage to do that then I think there could be areas in and around the whole French team.”
Asked about Bastareaud’s personality off the pitch, Ashton said: “He’s quite quiet day to day. He picks his moments when he’s lively and he’s well respected in the team. This season he’s been our captain and done a good job for us. He rides a small moped to training and everybody that sees him on it waves to him. It’s almost like Rocky going through the streets from the film.”
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