Palmer warns side over Maestri
March 6, 2012
Tom Palmer will hope to face France on Sunday © Getty Images
Palmer is currently in his final year with Stade Francais before switching back to Aviva Premiership side London Wasps for next season and the 24-year-old is well versed with the qualities Maestri and fellow lock Pascal Pape possess. Maestri only has three caps to his name but already has an army of admirers in the Top 14 and impressed against Ireland on Sunday.
And Palmer has warned his fellow charges to not expect an easy ride against the relatively unknown quantity of Maestri. "I've played against him a couple of times when I've played Toulouse and he's a big handful," Palmer told ESPNscrum. "He's got a great engine and is always working hard while also being a big guy. He's very hard to deal with - similar to Pascal Pape. Pape also has a lot of good ball skills alongside being a strong athlete."
Palmer has already faced France four times during his 35-cap career and will hope to be back in the mix on Sunday after being dropped for the match against Wales. But with England going through four different coaches in the past six years, Palmer has worked under the quartet of Andy Robinson, Brian Ashton, Martin Johnson and Lancaster in the past and is quick to lay praise at the feet of the current interim boss.
"Stuart's done a great job," Palmer said. "He's come in and he has set down exactly how he wants things to be done. He's given very strong directives about the culture he wants in place and everyone has bought into that.
"He's grabbed the focus of the players and he has shown the right mix of being hard when he needs to be and approachable at other times - so he has perfected that balance.
"And I think as a team we have been improving with each game and while we didn't get the result against Wales, it was the best we have actually played. We have not been together long as a group of players so I think we have done tremendously well to get where we are but the challenge is to keep on improving as a team."
If Palmer is selected against France on Sunday, then he will come up against some familiar faces having played for Stade Francais since 2009. With the likes of Nick Kennedy and Luke Narraway getting ready to move cross-Channel ahead of next season, Palmer is preparing to come back to Wasps but adds that the experience in the Top 14 has helped develop his own game.
"Being somewhere new and playing in a different competition helps your game. You learn a new style - it's hard to quantify but training and playing alongside new players means you are constantly developing your own play."
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