Thursday, March 11, 2010

New boy of France unfazed by first start – Six Nations Rugby 2010

New boy of France Marc Andreu says he is unfazed by making his first international start as his country go for a Grand Slam against Italy in their Six Nations rugby clash in Paris this Sunday.

The Castres winger is the surprise name in Marc Lievremont's starting line-up following his debut for Les Bleus against Wales in Cardiff two weeks ago.

 "I now have to stay focused and continue to train well this weekend to be at the top of my game on Sunday.

Andreu made his bow for the France team in a three-minute cameo appearance as a substitute against Wales a fortnight ago.

"That was a first step. I'm now in the starting line-up against a fine Italy side that are having a great tournament.

"For my first start, I'm going to try and perform well so I can stay in this squad that is packed full of top players."

"This does not bother me at all. On the contrary. It should be seen as a strength and not as a weakness. I have always been small and it has never posed me any problems. I'll play to my qualities to beat my opponents," Andreu said.

That has been shown this season as the winger has become a key part of the Castres team, the surprise leaders of the Top 14 league, starting 20 times and scoring five tries in all competitions.

Born in the town of Frejus on the Cote d'Azur, Andreu grew up in southwest France in a small town outside Bordeaux.

But the pacey winger could well have been lining up for another French national team alongside Thierry Henry and Yoann Gourcuff: he spent his early teenage years concentrating on his football and played in the same youth team as Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh.

He took up rugby seriously at the age of 15 and later signed for Toulon in 2002.

In his seven-year spell with the southern club, Andreu became known for his lightning speed and mazy running with the ball, winning call-ups to France's Sevens and university sides.

Now Andreu is fulfilling a long-time dream in turning out for the full national team against the Italians.

"All kids who start playing rugby dream of one day playing for the French team and even one day appearing in the Six Nations," he said.

Italy have a wretched record in the tournament, having notched up only their seventh-ever win in ten years against Scotland a fortnight ago.

Yet Andreu is refusing to underestimate the threat they pose.

"We'll have to take the Italians very seriously after they beat Scotland. They played well against England and Ireland so we must be very careful," he said.

France V Italy Hospitality

Six Nations Hospitality

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