Spedding still not sure of place in France team

Scott Spedding

Scott Spedding has revealed that even though he has started the last four matches
for France he still doesn’t that he is the first choice fullback for the Rugby
World cup.

The 29-year-old South African born fullback made his international debut for
France last November after living in France years and qualifying for his adopted
country on a residence basis.

Spedding says that he has grounds to be cautious as he is battling the more
offensively-minded Brice Dulin for the fullback spot ahead of their World Cup
opener with Italy on September 19 at Twickenham.

However, France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre, whose selection policies over
his four-year reign have raised as many eyebrows as his predecessor Marc Lievremont,
appears to have placed his faith in the muscular Spedding.

“I feel better now than I did when I began my international career last
November,” said Spedding, who through his eyecatching performances for
Bayonne gained himself a lucrative move to Top 14 giants Clermont after the
Basque side were relegated last term.

“I know the team, the guys and how the system functions much better.

“Of course it is much easier. However, it would be false to think that
I am the undisputed fullback.

“Nobody has a divine right to his place in the France team, one is obliged
to earn one’s spot every weekend.

“I know I have things I need to work on in my game, I still have work
to do.”

Spedding, who burst into tears when he was informed he had been included in
the French squad last November after taking the gamble to come to France virtually
penniless in 2007, didn’t believe that his more accurate long-range kicking
at goal would give him the advantage over Dulin.

“I don’t know. Brice has also been working on his kicking out of hand
and goal-kicking from distance.

“I am not working on that so as to win the duel with Brice, but to bring
something extra to the team.”

A contemporary of two-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome at boarding
school in South Africa, Spedding knows he must cut out errors such as the one
he produced during the recent 25-20 win over World Cup hosts England at the
Stade de France, a result which avenged their loss to the same opponents at
Twickenham the week before.

“There are a lot of things I need to sharpen up on,” said Spedding.

“For example I missed a kick to touch at a key moment of the match just
before half-time, which would have allowed the team to gain some ground.

“I must work on that. At this level one does not have the right to make
errors such as those.”

Spedding began his rugby career as a fly-half and played for South Africa against
France in the final of the Under-20 world championship in 2006 which the French
won.

Now, ahead of France’s final warm-up game against Scotland at the Stade de
France on Saturday, he knows his adopted country needs to fine-tune aspects
of their offensive play.

“It is imperative we work on our offence as it was slightly disappointing
against England,” he said.

“We have to convert more of our try-scoring opportunities as we have created
a lot without being able to finish them off.

“The more playing time we have the more likely that it will come together.
In any case it wasn’t too bad for a second warm-up game (the England match).

“But we know that we are not at the level we wished to be at the moment.
We too have a desire to score tries all over the place but we will see (against
Scotland).”

Spedding, though, refused to concede that nothing but a big win over the Scots,
coached by former Clermont boss Vern Cotter, would suffice as they are generally
regarded as a lesser force than the English.

“You cannot say Scotland are a small team,

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