After revealing his squad for the match against South Africa on Saturday in Marseille, France XV coach Fabien Galthié explained his selections at a press conference.
Fabien Galthié, Jonathan Danty are finally owners…
Yes. He did two weeks of preparation with us, played 80 minutes against Australia, scratched the last ball. He joined his wife by car in La Rochelle for the birth of Gabriel, “Jo’s son” (smile). He decided to join us in Marseille to meet the world champions. My son myself was born the day after a match between France and Australia (Mathis, in 2001, ed. note), and then I joined the team for the match against Fiji in St-Etienne. At that moment you have tenfold potential and you give great strength to your team. We sent Jonathan the game elements, it’s pretty simple. He will join us tomorrow.
Why did you call Bastien Chalureau on the bench?
As you know, we lost Paul Willemse, then Killian Geraci. Among other things, we called Bastien Chalureau. He is a player that we follow, he has gained a great dimension in Montpellier. It seemed important to us to open the door for him. Cameron Woki and Thibaud Flament can take a step back, it can provide opportunities depending on what needs to happen. Our desire is to have a solid front five for the start and finish.
Why did you choose to put both Romain Taofifenua and Bastien Chalureau, who have the same profile, on the bench?
We asked the question. We have enough options to answer all the problems, and especially to impose problems on the opponent. We tried to build a team that could keep the pressure on the opponent. We believe this formula will be the most effective. We have the very strong will to impose our game, but on the contrary it will be the world champions.
A word about Reda Wardi, who could also celebrate his first selection?
He owes his presence to his performances with La Rochelle for several years. He has a great career, as we like them (born in Montpellier, he played in Béziers from 2015 to 2019 before signing for La Rochelle, ed. note). Due to determination, work, he carved an XL suit on the left side. We have Cyril Baille Jean-Baptiste Gros, Dany Priso and therefore Reda, who we wanted from the first meeting, but who had received a red card. We didn’t hesitate to call him back and the training he did showed us he was ready to take on this challenge.
Romain Ntamack was a bit of a disappointment against Australia, weren’t you thinking of starting Matthieu Jalibert?
It was an opportunity to establish Matthieu Jalibert, he brought us his punch, his determination, his maturity and he followed us to victory. But Romain also had a solid game offensively and defensively. It was his cover. He was better this week, he will be better on Saturday night, as will the whole team. The doors are open, but the collective experience, what has been created before, also counts. The duty to remember is important.
Galthié: “The springboks, we love them”
Does the French team have the status of favorite at the World Cup?
Raphaël Ibanez (manager of XV of France): The concept of favorite is subjective, it is not a concept that comes to mind. We want to play with the best teams. For three years we have felt this desire to be up to it, to stay in the world’s Top 3, to experience great emotions. But we leave to other nations the status of favorite that they want to lend us.
What do you think of these Springboks?
We love them. We watched the documentary about their journey to the World Cup 2019. They touched us, they made us vibrate, what an amazing story! This documentary allowed us to enter into their intimacy. For three seasons they have played with those who are world champions, apart from a few new ones. We feel they know how to live and share that honor by wearing this jersey. For us it is a joy, a joy to challenge them in Marseille. We have great respect for them for what they have done. We had England in February 2020, New Zealand in November 2021 and we have that game on Saturday. What Rassie Erasmus has achieved with his employees is to make Bocks play with their DNA, intensity, physical challenge. They are a team that likes to move forward, that have to go forward no matter what, with or without the ball. This is how they built up their strength and were crowned world champions. They know how to fight anywhere, on the ground, in the air. But we are ready to respond to the fight.
France’s XV has sometimes suffered against Australia, do you fear that will be the case on Saturday?
We can do better. We have noted the points for improvement. But we won the fight and that’s the most important thing, especially when it’s difficult, when you’re close to a knockout. We were able to hang on to strong points to finish ahead. There, the opponent will play differently. We cannot compare. Our challenge is there. Globally, all our opponents are different. Since Monday, we have been preparing for a different story on Saturday.