Les Bleus upbeat for final despite harsh criticism

2011-10-20 13:27

France number eight Imanol Harinordoquy believes the French are their own worst enemy – and the difference between winning and losing Sunday’s World Cup final against New Zealand is in their own hands.

“I think all we need to do is to concentrate on ourselves. We need to work on our match preparation because at times our preparation failed us and that is what we will be focusing on this week so we are as prepared as possible,” he said at the team hotel today.

The dynamic eighth man says Les Bleus journey to Sunday’s Final has been rocky, but now that they are in the final they will just have to make the most of it.

“It is incredible. We lost two pool matches and in the (quarterfinal) match against the English we rose to the challenge and we probably should not have won (the semifinal) against the Welsh but we did and here we are. This is our journey, our history, and we need to believe in our own destiny,” Harinordoquy said.

According to him, it’s definitely going to be the most exciting match of his career thus far. He said: “To play in a World Cup final has never happened to me before and it will never happen again, being able to play in New Zealand, against the All Blacks. I never thought I would play in a World Cup Final so it is going to be very exciting.

“But on the other hand, we will have to remain composed, keep a cool head and not try to focus on what is at stake, (these are my) impressions in the run-up to the match.”

Flyhalf Morgan Parra says everything is going well with his neck injury and he should be fit to play on Sunday.

“Everything is going well. It is true over the first few days I had some mobility issues but everything is going well,” he said.

Many people feel that France should not have been in the Final because of their form in the pool stages, but Parra is confident they can go all the way on Sunday.

“We are trying to keep ourselves in a cocoon. The players are getting some negative feedback and if some are saying we do not deserve to be where we are, that hurts.

“We play on the pitch and we try to give the best possible image of French rugby and when we read the criticism in the press, we don’t want to read them, but criticism from our supporters saying we do not deserve to be here or certain English or Welsh players saying the same thing, that hurts but it brings is together.”

Coach Marc Lièvremont called some players “spoiled brats” after the semifinal, but Parra feels that maybe the coach was just annoyed.

He said: “For certain players, the World Cup has been quite difficult and maybe they needed to go out. The whole group did not go out and I am not sure why he called us all ‘spoiled brats’. But we have spoken about it and that is the end of it.”

He said he never thought I would be playing in the final at number 10.

“It is a dream of mine and I am trying to make the most of it and I am going to try to enjoy it the best I can, be that on the pitch or off the pitch. But for the dream to come true we have to win.

“I think when I go back to my club (Clermont Auvergne) I will go back to being number 9. To be good at number 9 is one thing and to be good at number 10 this weekend is my objective.

“As long as I am playing it and enjoying it, I don’t care where I play,” he added.

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