Wales wait on Warburton as Jenkins vows to respect the French

 

Neil Jenkins, the Wales skills coach, said yesterday that the team's poor record against France meant there was no way they would underestimate their opponents on Saturday, when Wales will attempt to win a third Six Nations Grand Slam in eight seasons.

France's title hopes have been ended by two poor home results, a 17-17 draw with Ireland and a 24-22 defeat by England. But Wales have lost 11 of the last 14 meetings between the sides, including a World Cup semi-final in Auckland in October.

"We are playing a side who we have not beaten since 2008," Jenkins said, referring to the match that sealed Wales's last Grand Slam. "They are a very good side and were very unlucky not to win the World Cup final. We are under no illusions as to what is ahead of us on Saturday. They are a fantastic side with some great players and that defeat on Sunday [by England] will have hurt them more, and they will want to prove a lot of people wrong.

"[Philippe Saint-André] has left a few players out, some sides do that in terms of losing games, sometimes France more than anyone else, but they have huge strength in depth and some of the players coming in are very impressive. Any side they put out will be a good side and they will be wanting to come to Cardiff and win on Saturday."

Wales's main injury concern is Sam Warburton. The captain and openside flanker, who was sent off in the World Cup semi-final, missed the Italy game with a knee injury.

Jenkins said: "He is going all right. He trained with us yesterday and this morning, so fingers crossed he is going pretty well.

"With Sam being captain, and as good a player as he is, we will probably give him as long as possible but this afternoon's session should be a good indicator of where he is at and we will see from there."

Should Warburton be fit, he will not have to face the wing Vincent Clerc, the man he tip-tackled to receive his red card from the referee Alain Rolland in Auckland. Clerc has a shoulder injury and will not play on Saturday.

Jenkins said: "Things happen, and they happened on that day, but from our point of view we need to forget about that and I think we have done, we have moved forward. We can't do much about it, that is history as far as we are concerned. We want to move forward and look forward to Saturday's game."

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