While the twinkle-toed Welsh have run in seven tries in their two games, the usually fluent French have managed only one to date in extending their unbeaten run in the championship to nine wins. Despite having blitzed the Italians with six tries in Italy, Wales will not only head to Stade de France brimful of confidence, but with a warning ringing in their ears from assistant coach Scott Johnson. "The pressure is off the French now they have beaten England. For them, the big game of the championship was at Twickenham," said Johnson. "Now they have won that one, their campaign is really on a roll. The pressure is off them and I expect to see a different type of French team in two weeks time. "I think they will open up a bit more and try to play a faster game. The French are an amazing race, they were under the cosh in the first-half at Twickenham and nobody gave them a prayer at half-time. "They clung on when a lesser side would have folded and they stole the game in the end. The French may be renowned for their attacking qualities, but they have one of the best defences in the world game. "Their line-out is very, very strong, their scrum is solid and technically they are very efficient. They do the basics as well as any team in the world and they are going to present us with a huge challenge in Paris.
"Rather than think about them, we have got to worry about how we play. We haven't got the ammunition of other sides and that means we have to play like we do.
"If we change our pattern we won't do ourselves justice. What the players now realise is if they play like they know they can then they can be a match for any side."
With four of the six tries in Rome coming from the pack, Wales have scoring potential all over the park at present. Johnson believes the catalyst for the Welsh team's running game has been Ospreys wing Shane Williams. As well as picking up a try in each of the wins over England and Italy, taking his Welsh tally to twenty-three in twenty-six tests, Williams turned provider for three more scores in Rome, twice splitting the Italian defence with his sidestepping.
"Shane Williams has been special so far. He's a talented kid who is also a bit of an oddity in the modern game because he can do things that other players can't," said Johnson. "He's not the same size and shape as everyone else, but he's quick, has wonderful feet and has added considerable strength to his game. Defences don't see the likes of him very often and he scares them."
Williams is becoming used to being at the centre of attention of the opposing defence and is expecting to be singled out for special attention by the French. Even so, he can't wait to get to Paris and try to keep Wales's current momentum going.
"It's great being a part of the Welsh squad at the moment. There is so much self-confidence and self-belief that we are all enjoying ourselves whether it's training or playing," said Williams. "We know we've still got a lot of improving to do and that things haven't been perfect in our opening two games, but we've picked up two wins and we are confident we can continue on the upward curve.
"With three games still to play, two of which are away, any talk of winning the title is banned. It's far too early too be looking that far ahead and this championship is proving to be one of the most competitive for a long time. We're enjoying the feeling of winning at the moment and we don't want to go back to losing ways - nobody enjoys that. The French will be able to come out and play more naturally against us having beaten England, but if it ends up being a more open game then that will suit us.
"I know they are going to pay special attention to me, but that's fine by me. If they do that it should create more space for other players in our team."
Wales hope to have Ospreys prop Duncan Jones back in the reckoning next week. He will have the plaster taken off his broken thumb at the end of this week and could play in the Celtic League at the weekend. But the news on former skipper Colin Charvis is not so encouraging. He is likely to have his broken foot in plaster for another two weeks and is in danger of missing the whole of the championship.
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Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
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