1. ITV Report

Sam Warburton urges Wales to improve against France in final 2017 Six Nations outing

Sam Warburton has urged Wales to improve when they conclude their 2017 Six Nations campaign against France on Saturday.

Sam Warburton targets Wales producing a better performance than in the victory over Ireland when they conclude their Six Nations campaign against France on Saturday. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire/PA Images

Flanker Warburton lines up in an unchanged team following the 22-9 success against Ireland for an appointment in Paris.

Wales outscored Ireland 3-0 on tries, but Warburton wants to see a better performance.

We are pleased with the way we played against Ireland, but there weren't a lot of pats on the back. There were a lot of times when, in the second half, we made errors where we shouldn't have done, and we could have lost that game.

So we have still got a bit of an edge about us, because we want to put those things right and put in a better performance against France. We've had some great wins out there - we won out there in 2013 and that turned that championship around - so the boys have good experiences out there. You know what France are like.

They are probably going to want to look to their driving game, and they have got some fantastic ball-carriers, not just in the pack but in their back line as well. I think one thing that helped us (against Ireland) was that the ball was in play for 46-47 minutes, and, more often than not, when the ball is in play that amount of time, we tend to win more matches than we lose. So that will be a target for us, to try to keep the ball on the park and back our fitness levels.

Hooker Ken Owens is set to win his 50th cap during Saturday's clash with France Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/PA Image

Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley has kept the same starting line-up for the third time in a row.

It means Bath forwards Luke Charteris and Taulupe Faletau remain among the replacements as Wales target a sixth straight victory over Les Bleus.

If Wales win - and England beat Ireland in Dublin on Saturday - then Howley's men will secure a top-four world ranking place ahead of the 2019 World Cup pool draw in May.

Despite suffering successive Six Nations defeats against England and Scotland this season, Wales are now targeting a top-three finish, while they could even secure runners-up spot behind England if they win and other results work for them.

Hooker Ken Owens, meanwhile, wins his 50th cap, and captain Alun Wyn Jones becomes the first Welshman to start 100 Tests for his country.

The front five has gelled together in this campaign, and that has definitely allowed Ken to shine in his work around the field. He is up there with one of the best ball-carrying hookers with regard to his ability to spin in the tackle and his ball presentation.

He has got great off-loading skills as well. Ken ticks all the boxes with regard to the modern-day hooker, if you like, and all that work is on top of his work at the set-piece. He has been part of a very solid scrum and very solid lineout.

– Robin McBryde, Wales Assistant Head Coach
Captain Alun Wyn Jones will become the first Welshman to start 100 Tests for his country Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

I was delighted for the players at Friday's result and performance (against Ireland), and they deserve the opportunity to build on that in our final Six Nations encounter. The experience we showed and the intensity we brought to the match was hugely important, and that will be just as important as we face a good France team at home. For us, there are areas of the game we want to work on from Ireland, and we have an opportunity to do that on Saturday and finish the campaign with another quality performance.


More on this story