Brunel makes bold choice in picking Jalibert against Ireland

Posted February 06, 2018

Two French players, Matthieu Jalibert and Antoine Dupont, suffered serious knee injuries; their tournaments are probably over.

"No one thinks we can win the Six Nations so we have got an opportunity to hunt the other teams down".

The Kiwi was widely ridiculed this time previous year for complaining in the wake of Ireland's opening day defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield that the team bus had been late arriving at the stadium and implying that might have been a factor behind his team's slow start.

The only blots on the copybook were the defeat to Wales and unexpected loss to Scotland in last year's tournament.

Ireland flanker Stander believes uncapped playmaker Jalibert can easily belie his inexperience to dictate the tempo for the new-look France outfit in tomorrow's NatWest Six Nations opener in Paris. We also have the experience of Fergus McFadden who is also a pretty accomplished goal-kicker too.

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Although Brunel has picked his most experienced front row, with captain Guilhem Guirado at hooker next to props Jefferson Poirot and Rabah Slimani, lock Arthur Iturria will start his first game in only his second test for France.

One of Noves's last acts was to align a stunningly young and inexperienced half-back pair against world champions New Zealand in November, as 21-year-old Anthony Belleau lined up outside Dupont - the French were thumped 38-18.

"It's about balance because putting Matthieu Jalibert at fly-half, there's an obvious inexperience in that respect", added Brunel.

"We felt we got very close to earning some reward when it was very, very slow ball".

"I thought it (the drop goal) was a little short".

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What has compounded matters‚ especially for the teams from the Home Unions‚ is the fact that their top players were engaged in a gruelling tour of New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions in the middle of previous year.

Jalibert grimaced as he limped off and was surprisingly taken down the tunnel for a head injury assessment after appearing to hurt his knee when he brought down Six Nations debutant Aki.

"In real time, you saw [Dupont's] knee buckling".

The 19-year-old Jalibert, who will make his global debut at the Stade de France three months after starting his first Top 14 match with Bordeaux-Begles, has been paired with the in-form Maxime Machenaud after Morgan Parra was ruled out injured. "We'll just try to undo them".

"Jalibert has settled in well, he's got his bearings and there is no reason not to start him", said Brunel, who was Jalibert's club coach before taking the France job.

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