Elissalde hoping for Welsh wobble

France scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde hopes the weight of pressure from an expectant public will wreck Wales' RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam bid. [more]

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France scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde hopes the weight of pressure from an expectant public will wreck Wales’ RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam bid.

Les Bleus know to their dismay what pressure can do to a team – as hosts of last year’s World Cup, they imploded in the opening match against Argentina and in the semi-final against England.

With the whole of Wales willing Warren Gatland’s men on, Elissalde reckons the same thing could happen this weekend to France’s unbeaten opponents, who need to avoid a defeat by more than 19 points in Cardiff to claim a second Six Nations title in four years.

"It is up to us to ignore everything that is going on around the match," said the Toulouse number nine, who returns to the visitors’ starting XV at the expense of Dimitri Yachvili.

"We saw in the World Cup in France that we caved in with all the emotion, and you can freeze in your own back yard.

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"I hope that it will be the same with the Welsh. They are playing for the Grand Slam in front of their own public – that doesn’t happen to them very often.

"It can be a source of extreme motivation, but it can also affect them as well."

Les Bleus have named an experienced team for the match as they look to continue their excellent record at the Millennium Stadium.

They have won their last four Six Nations games in Cardiff and beat the principality 34-7 in a World Cup warm-up game in the Welsh capital last summer.

Elissalde sees no reason why the French should be afraid this weekend.

"The Welsh are still the Welsh," he said. "We haven’t lost over there for ages.

"We mustn’t let ourselves get submerged by the wave of red that is going to crash into us at the start of the match, especially as there is no reason to be worried.

"This isn’t the All Blacks or the Australians we are talking about here. We mustn’t go there feeling we are going to the victims, rather the favourites."

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