Rugby: We must keep our heads warns Michalak

15th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

MARCOUSSIS, France, Sept 15, 2007 (AFP) - Mercurially talented French fly-half Frederic Michalak gets his chance to cement his place as first choice fly-half on Sunday when the hosts take on part-timers Namibia in Toulouse and he has warned his team-mates they must keep their heads.

MARCOUSSIS, France, Sept 15, 2007 (AFP) - Mercurially talented French fly-half Frederic Michalak gets his chance to cement his place as first choice fly-half on Sunday when the hosts take on part-timers Namibia in Toulouse and he has warned his team-mates they must keep their heads.

Michalak has often been criticised for not keeping his - most notably when as a 20-year-old he suffered a nightmare in the 2003 World Cup semi-final against England - but he insisted that unless France played in a sensible fashion against the Namibians then they could suffer.

While the French should sail through against the Namibians - who showed great spirit against Ireland last Sunday in losing 32-17 - their biggest test will come five days later against Six Nations Triple Crown winners Ireland.

Should the French lose that, then they would be all but certain to be out of the tournament - having lost to Namibia 17-12 in their opener last Friday - and Michalak said he was prepared to restrain his natural attacking flair for the team to succeed.

"I am going to respect the game," said the 24-year-old, who is set to join the Natal Sharks after the tournament.

"If it is better to pass the ball, then we will do so, but if it is wiser to kick then I will do that as well.

"If we don't follow that system then we will sink even lower."
 
Michalak - capped 45 times and a two-time European Cup winner with Toulouse - said perhaps it was no bad thing that the French had lost to the Pumas as they had been looking too far ahead.

"We all needed that," commented Michalak, whose words may not be quite the ones coach Bernard Laporte wanted to hear.

"But we are lying to ourselves when we play matches like that. We just weren't involved at all in the physical side of things.

"We always had the tendency to be looking towards a final with New Zealand."

Michalak, who has not always pleased Laporte because of his unpredictability and is not the most reliable of tacklers, said that he wasn't even looking towards a potential quarter-final with the All Blacks - whom the French famously beat in the 1999 World Cup semi-final at Twickenham.

"Like everything, things change," smiled Michalak.

"If we lose against Namibia or Ireland, we will be playing the All Blacks in front of the television!"

Michalak said that he had all but given up hope of making the World Cup after injuries had cost him most of last season.

"For me, it is already a pleasure to be in the team," he said.

"Following my injuries, I asked myself if I would be able to participate in the World Cup. Succeeding at returning to the highest level has been very hard.

"The only way you can see if you are up to scratch is by playing in test matches," added Michalak, who played in the two warm-up tests against England - playing in the whole of the second one - and part of the loss to Argentina.

Michalak admitted that there was much personally at stake for him in the match against Namibia - who the French saw off in the 1999 group stage.

"If one does not perform, then you are not invited back the next time," he said.

With David Skrela out injured for both the Namibia and Irish matches, Michalak's competition comes from Stade Francais youngster Lionel Beauxis, who has won all his six caps this year.

AFP

Subject: French news

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