Elissalde up for do-or-die ‘trial’ match

France scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde believes the French Barbarians’ match against Argentina is effectively a do-or-die trial game for those fringe players hoping for starts in Les Bleus’ Six Nations Championship run-in.

Twelve players who have had no or limited playing time for France so far in the Six Nations have been released for Saturday’s clash in Biarritz.

One of those is the talented Elissalde, who has not featured at all in his country’s victories over Italy, Ireland and Wales.

The Toulouse star has seen Pierre Mignoni start all three games and steal the limelight, while Dimitri Yachvili has been the replacement number nine on the bench.

Elissalde now reckons strong displays against Argentina will be crucial if any of the squad’s peripheral figures are to earn starts for the Six Nations matches against England, on March 11, or Scotland, on March 17.

“If we want to put our name in the hat for the last two matches of the Six Nations, we must perform this weekend,” Elissalde said.

“We are going to be assessed. We haven’t had a chance to play in the first three matches, so this will be a test for us on Saturday.

“This can’t be a match just to please the public.”

On his own selection, Elissalde, who started the Six Nations competition nursing a rib injury, said: “It is a long time since I have played, so I am happy to have been picked.

“This game comes at a good time, and it is about time that it came. I have been training well, but it is always better to play.

“And it will be a difficult match, a Test match against a strong team.”

Meanwhile, two of France’s star regulars, centre Yannick Jauzion and hooker Raphael Ibanez, have been struggling with respective knocks this week.

Jauzion has been suffering pain in his right thigh, while Ibanez has been having adductor problems.

If fit, both players are sure to be picked for France’s vital Six Nations match against England at Twickenham a week on Sunday.


365 Digital


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