In Marcoussis

In what state of mind did you find Marcoussis on Sunday evening?

Gaël Fickou: The week off did a lot of good. We had to take a mental break after the failure against Italy because we were all very frustrated. Now, we want to find our level of play, have fun again and move forward, even if the end of the Tournament promises to be very tough (in Cardiff next Sunday, then against England in Lyon).

Unlike usual, the team composition was not defined this Tuesday, during the first high-intensity training of the week. For what reasons ?

I do not know why. Probably to stimulate the team, to show the players that nothing is taken for granted and that the team can be different from previous matches. We got right into it. Sometimes change is good. The group needs to be stimulated. To question yourself too. We’ll see if it helps us win on Sunday…

What analysis was made of the draw conceded to Italy ten days ago in Lille?

We wanted to score too quickly. We tried one pass too many, one unnecessary jump… At international level, you have to take the time to build your game, sequence after sequence. This match was played in the first thirty minutes where we pushed, dominated, but without achieving anything. We did some very good things but also some very bad ones, particularly in the finishing. Not finishing shots is frustrating. In the second half, we were outnumbered (after the expulsion of Jonathan Danty). We exhausted ourselves trying to relaunch against a very dense defensive curtain and we rushed too much. Sport means nothing. If we score one or two tries at the start of the match, it’s over. But we found ourselves in difficulty with stupid penalties, a red card, a number of details which meant that it did not work out in our favor.

After this draw against Italy, Fabien Galthié assured that the French team was “not missing much” to return to its best level. Do you agree with this statement?

There were quite a few changes after those first four years. It’s normal that it takes a little time to find the settings. And we will succeed in finding them little by little. I am convinced that in the very short term, we will be formidable. There is talent in this team, competent staff. We will quickly raise our heads, and I hope that it will be this weekend. I am sure that we will recover very quickly, and in a good way…

The French team is collectively in difficulty in defense. How do you explain it?

Without making excuses, when you are one less than the opponent, it is always more complicated. There’s more ground to cover. Without throwing stones at anyone, because it could have happened to me too, we make mistakes that we rarely made before and which cost a lot of money. We’ve been in difficulty at this level for three matches now. We have to raise the bar regarding our rigor, our discipline, otherwise it becomes too complicated at that level.

How do you judge your personal performances since the start of this Tournament?

Against Ireland, we were not at the level and I was the first. I was bad. Against Scotland, I think I was at a very good level. Against Italy, I was very average, we were all very average. I think I can do much better…

There are always high expectations surrounding your performance…

Yes, but it’s the game. I’ve been here a long time and people always expect me to be at my best, to be the player who breaks through, who shines… It’s rewarding and it’s up to me to live up to these expectations, to raise my level of play, to be more consistent. But when you perform collectively, you perform individually. And vice versa. So we all need to raise our level of play, everyone needs to question themselves to be better.

Comments collected at a press conference