Matthieu Jalibert eager to face 'inspiration' Owen Farrell in Autumn Nations Cup final

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Matthieu Jalibert. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Matthieu Jalibert. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

France flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert said he is relishing facing England's Owen Farrell in next Sunday's Autumn Nations Cup final.

Jalibert, 22, will feature against Farrell for a second time in his career next weekend after topping Group B after Saturday's win over Italy.

Farrell has started 38 Tests at outside half but features mostly at centre under Eddie Jones with George Ford wearing the number 10 shirt.

"He's a player who inspires me a lot. He's one of the best flyhalves in the world," Bordeaux-Begles' Jalibert said.

"I've already been lucky to come up against him in this year's Six Nations. It's always a great opportunity and a pleasure to face world class players.

"We're lucky to play against great players and it's always an apprenticeship to play against them. I learn a lot by watching them and playing against them," he added.

On Sunday, les Bleus head coach Fabien Galthie made six changes to his 31-man squad for the trip to Twickenham after an agreement between the French Rugby Federation and the Top 14 league limiting players to three appearances on a team sheet during the end-of-year international campaign.

Jalibert is the only member of the 23-man side that played against Wales in the first warm-up Test in this autumn window in the 31-man squad for Saturday's trip to Twickenham.

Four uncapped players come into the set-up including 21-year-old winger Donovan Taofifenua with Galthie needing to name a new captain to replace stand-in skipper Baptiste Serin.

"I don't think you can say we're scared. I think it's a good chance to take on the best at the international level," Jalibert said.

"It's more of a chance to assess ourselves against a type of team like that rather than fear," he added.

'Territory war'

During the victory over the Azzurri, Jalibert contributed 17 of his side's 46 kicks from hand.

The former France under-20s playmaker admitted he has had to change his strategy when representing his country.

"It's different to club level where I tend to keep the ball in hand, carry the ball more. Test level calls for that," he said.

"We see the teams at the top level are those who control their exits from their own territory best and who kick a lot," he added.

Jalibert, who was sidelined for 14 months after suffering a serious knee injury on his international debut in 2018, predicts Galthie's men will have to be wary of England's ability from the boot.

"After watching them during their matches we know what to expect. They kick a lot," he said.

"We're expecting a match which will be difficult because they have a lot of good players who are very powerful, so it's going to be tough physically.

"We have to be good in the aerial battle, and the territory war, because they kick loads. It's going to be a real Test for this young squad to go up against such a team."

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