Pape has big boots to fill

Wed, 31 Oct 2012 11:45

France captain Pascal Pape has admitted that he faces a taxing month in replacing injured first choice skipper Thierry Dusautoir for the three November test matches.

The 32-year-old lock, who coach Philippe Saint-Andre called upon to stand in for Dusautoir as he did when the Toulouse star was rested for the tour of Argentina in the summer, said that he and his team-mates had three tough games coming up.

The French play Australia on November 10, bogey team Argentina a week later and then round it off with Samoa a week after that.

Pape, who just signed a new contract with Stade Francais despite interest from among others Top 14 leaders Toulon, said that the French started at a disadvantage especially against the Wallabies and the Pumas.

"It is really a huge challenge for us against three really good sides," said the 47-times capped Pape, who was an integral part of the French team that lost 8-7 to the All Blacks in last year's World Cup final.

"Australia and Argentina will be especially tough as they have been in a club-like atmosphere for four months (playing in the Rugby Championship) whereas we will have just eight days to prepare together.

"It is a difficult series of tests but in terms of experience and competition we couldn't ask for more.

"We are all aware of the huge task which awaits us and I hope that we will be up to it," he added.

Pape said there was extra pressure on them because Saint-Andre is determined they do well enough to see them break into the top four in the world rankings and earn a much-coveted top seeding for the 2015 World Cup draw in London in December.

"The top four place is at stake," he said. "If we can put ourselves into pole position that will be even better.

"We know the qualities of the Australians and the Argentinians, who we watched during the Four Nations. We know it will be hard but we are playing in France, we will have the support of the public.

"It will be a genuine competitive series."

Pape, who made his international debut in 2004 but failed to make the 2007 World Cup squad, said that while it was an honour to be back captaining the national side it also came at a cost to the team.

"I am captain because of a series of events that occurred," said Pape, who first captained France in 2007 when Bernard Laporte was coach.

"It is not very good news because Thierry (Dusautoir) will not be playing and he is indispensable to the French team both on and off the pitch.

"It is therefore very disappointing for both Thierry and for the French team that we have lost our leader.

"That aside evidently I will take on the role of captain with great pleasure.

"When you are in the French team, you know what is expected of you, you know what values you must bring with you. Apart from that there is no real need for great speeches."