Wilko wary of Les Bleus

Jonny Wilkinson is wary of Marc Lievremont's new look France side ahead of Saturday's crunch RBS 6 Nations showdown. [more]

Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson is wary of Marc Lievremont’s new look France side ahead of Saturday’s crunch RBS 6 Nations showdown.

The French boss has rung the changes ahead of the Twickenham clash which looks set to decide the destiny of the Championship crown.

Sebastien Chabal, Vincent Clerc, Dimitri Yachvili and Yannick Jauzion have been recalled, while Maxime Medard switches from wing to full-back to replace Clement Poitrenaud.

In a World Cup year and ahead of game of such importance the decision has raised a few eyebrows. But Wilkinson, who has toured Australia and New Zealand with the Lions, is not surprised having experienced Top 14 rugby.

"In French club games you tend to see somebody coming out of nowhere," said Wilkinson.

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"Guys pop up with big performances and because of that it's hard to know the best relationships to have in your team with regard to who plays with who.

"There are guys in the French league who are scoring tries and doing great things.

"Last year Alexis Palisson was playing, now there are other guys there. But they're all capable of really pulling some pretty good stuff out.

"Part of their strength in depth is finding that perfect formula on the field and getting the guys to play together.

"It's not just a case of we'll put him with him, it's about who works well with who. That connection is very important.
"Maybe the changes are about trying to find that ideal system before the World Cup."

Lievremont has lit the blue torch paper ahead of the crunch encounter by claiming he dislikes the English. But Wilkinson has dismissed the comments and insists Martin Johnson's men have to be at the top of their game as they look to build momentum into the World Cup.

"I wouldn't put it down to mind games. It's more important to know France are capable of beating Ireland away when they might not have played so well," added Wilkinson.

"Having played these guys individually several times over the last season and a half, I've seen what they're capable of. There's always that knowledge where you know you have to prepare for the very best of what they've got.

"In doing so you're kind of almost preparing for the latter stages of the World Cup, which is where we've met them a fair bit recently."

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