Hosts look towards Cardiff

France scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde believes travelling to Cardiff for a bizarre ‘away’ quarter-final against New Zealand could be a blessing in disguise for the rightful World Cup hosts.

Les Bleus must secure a bonus-point win over Georgia this Sunday and hope that Argentina do not claim a match point against Ireland if they are to seal a home clash in the last eight.

The Argentine side of that scenario doesn’t seem likely and the French are expecting to finish second in Pool D, which would mean a quarter-final match against tournament favourites New Zealand in the Welsh capital.

After seeing his side already succumb to stage fright in their opening-night defeat to the Pumas at the Stade de France, Elissalde does not see playing away from home as a negative.

“In the end, it matters little – why wouldn’t it be better to go to Cardiff to play the All Blacks?” he asked.

“We wouldn’t have the pressure. We would be a long way from home and in any case, we will have to beat the All Blacks one day or the other.”

Elissalde looks to have made the number nine jersey his own after strong performances in wins over Namibia and more recently Ireland.

Pierre Mignoni, who has not started since the defeat to Argentina, has been left on the periphery with Elissalde’s kicking another string to his bow.

However, the Toulouse scrum-half insists competition is rife in that position.

“There are no guaranteed places,” he said.

“The turnover in the first few games is such that nothing is guaranteed.

“If I have played well, it’s especially thanks to my forwards. It is so easy to play behind a pack like that.”

France name their team for Sunday’s clash with Georgia on Thursday morning.


365 Digital

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