MATHIEU Bastareaud fears Scotland will step up their revival by shooting down France today – and tarnish his image of Murrayfield as his favourite stadium.
The imposing Bastareaud took the venue by storm four years ago with a performance that not only yielded two stunning tries, but effectively salvaged his Test career. The giant centre is desperate for a repeat display this afternoon – but reckons the hosts will prove a much harder nut to crack than in 2010. The Toulon player said: “People underestimate Scotland – to my mind they are every bit as good as Wales, who beat us convincingly two weeks ago. I played twice for Toulon this season against Glasgow in the Heineken Cup – and their guys make up a large part of this Scotland line-up. Glasgow made it really hard for us both times. Scots players are always stout-hearted. They are coming off a win in Italy so we must be wary.”
On his happy Murrayfield memories, Bastareaud added: “It is a great place – a beautiful stadium with tremendous atmosphere. It is special when you hear the Scottish anthem being sung a cappella.”
Looking back to 2010, he added: “I was brought back into the French team for the Scotland game. We won 18-9 and I scored two tries – and we went on to win the Grand Slam.”
France wing Yoann Huget also insists Les Bleus can not afford to take risks against Scotland. “We can’t pretend to ourselves that, today, we’re better than Scotland. We will start well by taking our kicking game seriously, and then we will see,” he said.
France coach Philippe Saint-André has responded to their Welsh hammering by making seven changes to his team, but Huget admits the back division will have to perform better than they did last time out. “We are working hard and we have things in place, but we haven’t made them work yet,” he said. “We coped better against England and the centres took part in recovering the ball. But it shouldn’t be the case that a single grain of sand in the wheels stops us from getting going.”