Confident French get unwanted fitness report
October 1, 2007
France arrived in Cardiff today to some unwanted news on the injury front but still talking up their chances against the All Blacks in this weekend's rugby World Cup quarterfinal.
Soon after landing on foreign soil, France revealed that halfback Pierre Mignoni had been ruled out of the Millennium Stadium clash with a leg injury suffered during Monday morning's 64-7 rout of Georgia in Marseille.
Team doctor Thierry Hermerel said the diminutive No 9 would probably be fit for the semifinal if France were to triumph over New Zealand.
Mignoni was probably only a reserve bench option for coach Bernard Laporte, who has favoured Jean-Baptiste Elissalde at this tournament.
Hermerel had better news on the fitness of veteran lock Fabien Pelous, saying the former French skipper had recovered from a knee problem and was "100 percent fit".
The French team will be named on Wednesday night (NZ time).
Laporte maintained his mantra of the week that the world No 1 ranked All Blacks are mortal opponents and eminently beatable
"We will try to explain to the players that they have to be strong in the fight...we have a 50 per cent chance of winning," Laporte said.
"We will have to be very good in every sector of our game.
"I don't know if it is better to play them in the quarterfinal or the final but we have to play them. They have missed hard games (in the pool matches) so I don't know. They are not unbeatable. In one game anything is possible."
Laporte said he expected plenty of All Blacks kicking, particularly in the first half.
He said they hadn't taken a lot of risks through pool play and wondered if combinations were not fully functioning.
"They haven't scored many tries on first-phase balls and most of the tries have been scored individually not collectively."
Laporte was aware of the injury cloud over All Blacks first five-eighth Daniel Carter but wasn't overly concerned whether the world class playmaker recovered from a calf strain and was passed fit to play.
"It is not only Carter who is very good, there are a lot of quality players around him. They are a very collective team now."