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10 Nov 2009 08:32
Imanol Harinordoquy is relishing the chance to test his strength against a South African side he regards as having the “nastiest” players in the world when France face the Springboks on Friday.
“South Africa are world champions, they are the best team in the world but they also are the nastiest and most physical team in the world. A team that is always trying to hurt,” the number eight who will switch to flanker to bring more power to the French pack, told journalists on Monday.
“Of course, they play inside the rules, they don’t stamp on you or knee you because now if you do that it’s a yellow card or even a red card,” he added.
“Our sport is changing but the fundamentals are the same.
A rugby game, and particularly a game against the Springboks, is above all a fight between two packs of forwards.”
Asked if he agreed with Lucien Mias, captain of the first France team to win a test in South Africa in 1958 who said that “in a sport of sacrifice, the Springboks have decided once and for all to be the butcher rather than the lamb”, he answered:
“Yes, you could say they are butchers but I can assure you we are not going to be the lambs on Friday.”
The laugh which followed that sentence was clearly a sign the 29-year-old with 56 caps was approaching the game with a great respect for the Springboks.
“They don’t play a very sophisticated game but they always try to break their opponents defence, they are very strong on the tackle, and in the rucks, their line-out is superb and they are hefty in the physical duels,” he said.
“We beat them last time we met but it was in 2006 [36-26 in Cape Town] and they were rebuilding their team.
“To match them, we’ll have to be very strong on the fundamentals of the game, do simple things but do them well even if sometimes it’s the most difficult. I’m sure we can do it but we’ll have to be at our best and play with a lot of solidarity.”—Reuters
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