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Six Nations consistency key for French
Andrew Baldock
06:15 AEST Thu Jan 24 2013

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has no doubt where one of Les Bleus' biggest battles will lie in this season's Six Nations Championship - showing consistency.

Saint-Andre's squad have been installed as Six Nations favourites by many pundits on the back of a 2012 campaign highlighted by a comprehensive victory over Australia in Paris.

But reproducing those type of performances on a regular basis has often eluded French teams down the years.

"We know the big problem of French rugby is to be consistent," Saint-Andre said at Wednesday's Six Nations media launch in London.

"We won four games consecutively in the autumn. This is quite a big event for French rugby, but we would like more and more of this.

"On our best day we can beat the best in the world - on our worst we can lose to anyone.

"It's a big step this Six Nations because we have three away games. We did well in the autumn, but we were at home.

"This year is big. We are trying to show how tough we can be mentally and physically away from home."

France will be led into the tournament by Stade Francais lock Pascal Pape, with Saint-Andre giving his 2011 World Cup captain Thierry Dusautoir time to concentrate on playing again following an injury.

And Saint-Andre believes Pape has done an outstanding job in the leadership role.

"I think with Pascal, what you see is what you get. He gelled very well with the young players, the young players respect him and I think he has a lot of charisma.

"If he asks them to work very hard on the pitch, the guys follow him and I think the spirit in the team is very important.

"Thierry was a fantastic captain also, but Pascal did well on the pitch and I think it was fair to carry on with him."

One of Saint-Andre's key selections will be at fly-half, where Toulon star Frederic Michalak is likely to win the vote despite playing much of his club rugby in the number nine shirt alongside half-back partner Jonny Wilkinson.