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Medard is no magician

Tue, 05 Mar 2013 06:28
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I'm feeling 99%
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Maxime Medard is set to make his first appearance for France in over a year in Dublin on Saturday but the exciting back says people must not expect miracles from him.

The 26-year-old Toulouse star - capped 30 times - admits he still carries the effects of the ruptured cruciate ligaments he suffered in the opening Six Nations match with Scotland in February last year.

However, he has earned his recall to the squad for the clash with Ireland this weekend at the expense of wing Benjamin Fall because of the attacking possibilities he brings and which has seen him score 10 tries for his country so far, including six in the Six Nations.

The French are in dire need of some attacking spark after making their worst start to a Five/Six Nations since 1982 in losing their first three matches and are in danger of ending up with their first wooden spoon since 1957.

"Maxime is very interesting in terms of his style of play," said French backs coach Patrice Lagisquet.

"He is a creative player, he can bring danger in different parts of the pitch.

"He also has a physical dimension to him which is interesting," added Lagisquet, himself a former star wing who earned himself the sobriquet the 'Bayonne Express'.

Medard, a member of the French side that lost 8-7 to New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup Final, admitted that having come through the two Top 14 games against Bayonne and then the defeat to leaders Toulon last Saturday things were coming together.

"I feel good, I have recovered my feel for the game.

"I am taking it at stages, my kicking game is returning progressively, plenty of things are starting to work.

"I don't pose myself too many questions in each match. At the beginning I was very apprehensive. I remember at one point I wanted to make a dummy on my right foot and that was tough, as the message didn't filter through to my leg.

"I can't bend my knee totally yet, but that is normal, one requires more than a year for that. I'm feeling 99%."

Medard, a two-time European Cup winner with Toulouse and three-time French champion, said that he hoped too much wasn't expected of him and that he would singlehandedly turn French fortunes round.

"There aren't too many things missing from the team which can get us a win," he said.

"There is already a squad in place and it is for me to adapt. I prefer to stay discreet."

Lagisquet too admits that Medard may not be at his best but that it was a gamble worth taking.

"He is perhaps not at his best, but he is already at a very good level," said Lagisquet.

"Against Bayonne, even if it was a relatively easy game, he produced some delightful moves. Against Toulon, under pressure he succeeded in getting out of trouble. He was solid in support too."

Lagisquet and France rugby fans will hope that the gamble on Medard pays off on Saturday otherwise they will enter their final match at home to Scotland a week later in a must win situation if they are to avoid the ignominy of the wooden spoon.

AFP

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