Jeanjean In Race Against Time To Be Fit To Face Wales
3 February 2002 11:00am
The French are facing a full back crisis in the wake of their 33-12 Lloyds TSB Six Nations victory over Italy.
Already without their teenage star Clement Poitrenaud with a shoulder injury, they lost his Toulouse clubmate Nicolas Jeanjean with a badly bruised leg at Stade de France.
Jeanjean limped out of the game after 53 minutes and could be out for two weeks.
That makes it touch and go for him to be fit in time to face Wales in Cardiff on February 16.
A third Toulouse palyer, the 25-year-old Xavier Garbajosa, came on to replace Jeanjean and will be on stand-by to play at the Millennium Stadium.
French coach Bernard Laporte will be looking for an improvement in his side's performance against Wales, who made it two wins in a row in Paris for the first time in 50 years last season.
"It is going to be a big, big game for us against Wales. We will have to retrieve our enthusiasm because it's going to be a huge challenge for us," said Laporte.
"Wales beat us in Paris last year and we have to put the record straight after that. We've got to win.
"The loss of Raphael Ibanez, Patrick Tabacco and Fabien Galthie to our starting line-up affected our cohesion against Italy and took it's toll on us.
"Wales are a very good team and our next match is going to be a major challenge."
French captain Olivier Magne blamed a lack of rhythm for a lacklustre first hour against the Azzurri.
"The Italians caused us a lot of problems by preventing us form getting the ball," said magne.
"You didn't see the true face of this French team because we weren't in the right rhythm.
"But without doubt we will show that against Wales in two weeks time. I've got a lot of hope for this team and we will sort out our problems and be in better shape by the time we face Wales."
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.