NEW France head coach Guy Noves accepts his squad have plenty of hard work ahead after they produced a late comeback to see off Italy 23-21 in Paris.
Heading into the last five minutes at Stade de France, the Italians led, only for Jules Plisson’s long-range penalty to deny Jacques Brunel’s side a famous victory, with Italy captain Sergio Parisse also missing a drop-goal attempt in added time.
Noves admitted his men had made it tough for themselves. “Despite a very short training period ahead of the game, we managed to win and with a very refreshed team, so the boys showed a lot of enthusiasm,” he said. “However, we did not always play with a clear head and there were no rhythm changes. We did not play fast enough. I had the feeling that players aged between 20-29 were actually 35, so we will have to talk about this.”
Despite the manner of what was, in the end, a somewhat fortuitous victory, there were still some positives for Les Bleus, notably the try-scoring debut of Fiji-born wing Virimi Vakatawa, while Damien Chouly and Hugo Bonneval also went over.
Brunel hopes the performance of his squad will give them something to build on for the rest of the campaign.
“We showed character. We wanted to be a tough opponent and we managed that,” he said.