Milloud ready for forward battle

Olivier Milloud is expecting a tough battle up front if he steps into the shoes of injured team-mate Sylvain Marconnet for France’s Six Nations Championship showdown against England on Sunday.

The Bourgoin prop is set to be thrown into battle at Twickenham following the unfortunate injury suffered by seasoned front-row veteran Marconnet at the weekend.

Marconnet, who has 71 caps to his name, fractured his fibula and tibia while on a skiing holiday, and is facing a five-month stint on the sidelines.

Milloud appears to be the beneficiary of the Stade Francais star’s misfortune, and he admits the task awaiting him on Sunday is immense, despite the world champions’ recent capitulation against Ireland.

“We must be vigilant because England, who are coming off a heavy (43-13) defeat at Croke Park, will be trying to bounce back,” said Milloud.

“They must make amends and show their true face.

“Against the English, it is always very hard up front. We need to be very organised. We must be very strong at the set-piece, especially in the scrum.

“Even with injuries and their uncertainties, the English can call on quality players. They have a big pool of players.”

France are on course for the Six Nations Grand Slam having won their first three games in the tournament – against Italy, Ireland and Wales.

England, meanwhile, impressed in beating Scotland in their opener, but struggled in victory against Italy before their Dublin drubbing a week and a half ago.

Milloud rejects the theory that Les Bleus will start as favourites at Twickenham.

“I do not rely on statistics too much,” he added. “I don’t know if you can say we are favourites.

“In England, it is still 50-50. We are going there without pressure.”

Although Milloud will benefit from Marconnet’s absence over the next few months – and maybe in the World Cup later this year – he feels sorry for his compatriot nonetheless.

“It is a real shame for him,” he said. “He is going to miss the Six Nations, even more.

“I hope that his recovery is quick and that he will be available for the World Cup. We are crossing our fingers that things go well for him.

“I was very sad when I heard about it. It is very serious and it will serve as a motivation for us now.”

France captain Raphael Ibanez, who is sure to pack down with Milloud in the front row on Sunday, agreed it would be wrong to underestimate England.

“Those who believe it will be easy for us at Twickenham know nothing about rugby,” said Ibanez.


365 Digital

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