Dusautoir defends teammates against Tongan attack
France captain Thierry Dusautoir has shrugged off Tonga counterpart Finau Maka's criticism of his team's front-row and centres ahead of the Pool A clash on Saturday.
Maka has voiced his surprise that his former Toulouse team-mates Florian Fritz and Yannick Jauzion were left behind in France and veteran prop Sylvain Marconnet also missed the cut for the World Cup.
France coach Marc Lievremont, who has been heavily criticised for his selections throughout his four years in charge, has instead opted to retain the largely untried centre pairing Maxime Mermoz and Aurelien Rougerie for Saturday's pool A game in Wellington.
Mermoz has started only two matches at centre alongside Rougerie.
Hooker William Servat returns to the front-row alongside props Jean-Baptiste Poux and Luc Ducalcon.
"I think it's more important is to concentrate on our team and what we are going to do tomorrow" said Dusautoir when told of Maka's opinion that the French front-row and centres are a weakness that can be exploited.
"I accept his comments. He is not the only one who thinks they are a weakness. But I don't really care about it."
And he was far more diplomatic when asked if there was a weakness in the Tongan side the French would look to exploit.
"I think they are playing better and better rugby since they started against the All Blacks," the loose forward said.
"I'm sure they are going to take their chance to be in the quarter-finals tomorrow. It will be a good game for us and a tough game for us for sure."
Most of the talk surrounding the French since their arrival in New Zealand has been about the disharmony within the group and Lievremont's ongoing battle with the French media.
The team's performances have certainly not hit the mark yet, despite what the 47-21 and 46-19 scores against Japan and Canada, respectively, suggest.
The French looked ragged against the All Blacks in last weekend's 37-17 defeat, where the midfield channel was ruthlessly exposed by the New Zealanders.
But Lievremont believes there has been improvement as they head towards a likely quarter-final showdown with Six Nations champions England.
"The team is progressing but the first priority is to win this game (against Tonga)," he said.
"But obviously if the team plays well this weekend it will give a good indication as to how we are shaping up for the final stages of the World Cup."