France hardman, Serge Betsen, reckons Wales will be firing blanks if they drop Stephen Jones or Jonathan Thomas for next week's RBS Six Nations clash. Steve Hansen has promised wholesale changes after the heavy defeat in Dublin with the two Rugby World Cup stars places at threat, but Betsen admits he was hugely impressed by Jones and Thomas down under and reckons they are the dangermen that France must be wary of. "We know we are going to have to take Wales very seriously next week, especially in Cardiff," he said. "They proved to the world during the Rugby World Cup that they have a lot of strengths. Their games against New Zealand and England in Australia were amazing, I was shocked but also very impressed.
"I thought their outside half, Stephen Jones, stood out. He controlled the game and made good decisions. Their No.6, Jonathan Thomas, also impressed me. He was very fast and a strong runner and I think he is certainly a player of the future."
Betsen will return with his club, Biarritz, for the Heineken Cup quarter-final against the Scarlets at Stradey Park in April having already lost at Cardiff and Swansea on previous visits.
Despite Welsh woes in Dublin, the abrasive flanker, who has had more than a hundred stitches in his face, is expecting another tough battle next Sunday.
"Wales will be very disappointed with of last week's game against Ireland so they are going to want to prove how good they are next week against France," said Betsen. "Two years ago we were going for the Grand Slam but it was very difficult to get a win at the Millennium Stadium.
"It is always very difficult to win there and we will need to show a lot more commitment than we have done so far in this RBS Six Nations. If we do not then it will be very hard.
"We beat Italy last week but we were lacklustre and we realise that we must come up with something much, much better against Wales next week. This match is going to be key if we are going to win the Championship." Toulouse outside-half, Frederic Michalak, returns from a shoulder injury as the only change to the France squad that beat Italy 25-0 in Paris.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.