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Fofana must stop pressuring himself, says France backs coach

Wesley Fofana must stop pressuring himself to live up to billing, says France backs coach

Fofana must stop pressuring himself, says France backs coach

LONDON (AP) -- Dynamic center Wesley Fofana must stop pressuring himself to live up to his billing as the star of French rugby.

That is the message from France backs coach Patrice Lagisquet ahead of the Rugby World Cup Pool D match against Romania on Wednesday, when Fofana starts his first match of the tournament after recovering from a thigh injury sustained against Scotland in the final warm-up match on Sept. 5.

Fofana, a powerful midfielder with explosive running skills, rose to prominence during the Six Nations two years ago with a headline-grabbing solo try against England, running almost 70 meters and breaking through several tackles.

He got another fine try against Scotland, and also crossed against New Zealand at Eden Park in June 2013 to confirm his blossoming reputation. But there have been only three tries since then. After missing France's opening game -- a 32-10 win against Italy last Saturday -- he is raring to go and hopeful of adding to his international tally of 11 tries against Romania at London's Olympic Stadium.

But Lagisquet, one of France's finest wingers with 20 tries in 46 tests, urges the Clermont Ferrand star not to try too hard.

"He needs to detach himself from external concerns that everyone is expecting big things from him," Lagisquet said. "He needs to step back sufficiently to not go looking for these big things. It's true, I find him a little too susceptible to the outside world, the media."

He has a match at the Olympic Stadium to ease himself into the tournament, even with 13 changes to a young side led by veteran hooker Dimitri Szarzewski. France hasn't lost to Romania in 25 years

"All the preparation has been orientated towards keeping players fresh," Lagisquet said.

But that has not gone entirely smoothly.

Tuesday's morning training session, which was due to start at 10:30, was pushed back to 11 after the team bus was caught in traffic.


Updated : 2021-03-08 03:38 GMT+08:00