France wary of another Italian ‘tsunami’ in Six Nations opener
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has warned his team against complacency in their Six Nations opener in Rome today, claiming traditional makeweights Italy are "no longer a little team".
France were stunned by the Italians in Flaminio two years ago when a 22-21 loss sent shock waves through the sport.
"They are no longer a little team, even if public opinion thinks they are. Italy are progressing, they have evolved in their structure and organisation," said the French coach.
"This will be a complicated match. We respect the Italians. We have watched them and we know that if we do not play at a high level then it will be difficult.
"Statistics made France the favourites two years ago, but the loss created a tsunami in France. We can only think of this game, not the ones to come."
Former skipper Thierry Dusautoir has been recalled to the France team. The 31-year-old flanker, who captained France in the 2011 World Cup final against New Zealand, last played for the national side in last year's Six Nations tournament.
Other changes see Racing Metro's Benjamin Fall come in on the wing for the injured Vincent Clerc, while Yoann Huget gets the nod at fullback ahead of the injured Brice Dulin.
That win in 2011, says captain and No8 Sergio Parisse, means France have no option, but to take Italy seriously.
"France are a great team, but there's no doubt about the fact they have respect for us," said Parisse, who plays at French Top 14 side Stade Francais. "We know their individual qualities, but we'll be going into this match with no fear, as we do every time."
Tobias Botes is at scrum-half in place of Edoardo Gori, while Luke McLean replaces injured Mirco Bergamasco.