Fiji rugby coach John McKee says his forwards must stand up to France so that his talented backline can make the difference on Saturday in Marseille.
The New Zealander insists his men have victory in mind but acknowledges that they must compete physically up front if they are to have any chance of unleashing dangerous wings Alipate Ratini and Watisoni Votu.
“The game tomorrow (Saturday) night will depend very much on the forwards battle and the French will really try to attack us through the forwards and wear us down through the forwards,” said McKee.
“The challenge for us is to win the battle in that area of the game and open the game up.
“The French will play very direct and use their forwards a lot, and for us we’ll have to counter that and create opportunities for guys like Ratini and Watisoni.”
Fiji have never got close to beating Les Bleus, losing all eight previous encounters, including going down 34-12 the last time they met in Nantes four years ago.
Their worst defeat was a 77-10 hammering in Saint-Etienne in 2001, although they lost only 28-19 in Toulouse two years before that, their best showing.
Yet McKee believes they can still cause an upset.
“Our mindset is that we can win this game, we don’t go to a game thinking we will come second,” he said.
France have made some changes to their team, giving debuts to the likes of South Africa-born fullback Scott Spedding and Racing-Metro pair Teddy Thomas and Alexandre Dumoulin, while another South African native Rory Kockott could make his bow from the bench.
But Fiji have not been looking at individuals.
“It’s for us to play our game and try to impose ourselves on the game, we don’t pick out individual players,” said McKee.
“We want to try to put pressure on the French team across the team to maybe force mistakes or force the French to play differently to how they want to play.”
Nine of the Fiji starting line-up ply their club trade in France and McKee asserted his belief that that would help them.
“It’s good for us, a number of our players are playing here in France and they’ve been playing very well, it helps us know the French team better. They know their opposition and that does help us in our preparation.”