Hodgson wary of unpredictable France

Charlie Hodgson is braced for a tale of the unexpected when he makes his first England appearance at the Stade de France in the Six Nations clash on Sunday. [more]

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Charlie Hodgson is braced for a tale of the unexpected when he makes his first England appearance at the Stade de France in the Six Nations clash on Sunday.

The England fly-half has yet to encounter the French in their own back yard, although whatever happens this weekend, it surely cannot be worse than last year’s experience, when Hodgson and fellow goalkicker Olly Barkley were booed by some of the Twickenham faithful.

Missed penalties cost England everything as France, inspired by the boot of scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili, pinched an 18-17 verdict.

"It was a disappointing game for us against them at Twickenham last year and, hopefully, we can put things right," Hodgson said.

"France have shown glimpses of magical rugby this season, and they’ve also had their low times during games. Hopefully, we can put them under a lot of pressure, but France are very unpredictable.

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"They can turn up on the day and destroy anybody, so we have to make sure we defend well.

"I think you have to be prepared for the unexpected, but the only thing you can really do is concentrate on their previous games, look at their patterns of running and what they have been doing.

"You expect something unpredictable, but at the same time over the duration of an 80-minute game there is going to be something in there that you might have seen before," added Hodgson.

"I have never played at Stade de France before. I guess there are a lot of places you go to and experience a fantastic atmosphere, and I am sure Stade de France will be no different.

"A lot of the boys have played in France and what comes with that – the crowd whistling and jeering at you and stuff – and it will just be on a bigger scale. I am looking forward to the challenge."

Although England comfortably beat Wales last month, they struggled against Italy before losing in Scotland in what some red rose followers felt was an accident waiting to happen.

But Hodgson has kept his form throughout, sounding a positive note leading towards next year’s World Cup.

"I would have hoped for a better result against Scotland, but individually, I am pleased with the way things are going," he said.

"I am enjoying my rugby at the moment – I am feeling more at ease with the set-up."

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