Nicolas Jeanjean, performance director of the Blues: “We were a little surprised by the gap with Ireland”

“What assessment do you draw from the first two matches of the Tournament (lost against Ireland 17-38 and won in Scotland 16-20) on a physical level?
In terms of energy and physical intensity, we were not up to par against Ireland, a team of very high rugby but also physical level. There was a gap. We didn’t know how to respond, we walked more than them and we didn’t know how to take on the sequences they offered us. We questioned ourselves, I questioned myself about the reasons for this inability in this match, to respond to the intensity proposed by the opponent. We had to try to analyze this, to find some solutions. Against Scotland, it was much better in terms of energy and movement, we were much more in place defensively and offensively. The goal at the end of the Tournament will be to compete and why not put our opponents in difficulty on a physical level.

How do you explain these difficulties in keeping up the pace and intensity against Ireland?
I think it’s a bit multifactorial. After the World Cup, the players all had different treatments. Some went straight on, others had a few weeks of vacation, others a few months. Despite everything, we were a little surprised by the gap with Ireland. The Irish team works differently: three months after the World Cup, there was a difference of three matches played compared to our players. They were able to use them while working or regenerating. That’s just the observation. What is certain is that we got to work. We tried to find the best possible balance in terms of work on regeneration, because the players come from far away. But you also have to expose them to the intensities they will have during an international match.

How do you find the balance between preparation and regeneration?
That’s the whole challenge that was ours. By discussing with the clubs the state of fitness of the players and their sequence of matches. Our goal is to optimize the fitness level of the players. We responded in the best way on the ground in Scotland. There was more energy on the pitch, the players matched the physical intensity offered by Scotland, which allowed us to fight, hold the match and win it. This is a real improvement over the first game. We have a strategy for the weeks without playing where we will accumulate a little bit of physical work but also regeneration to try to optimize all the chances of having the maximum energy for the end of the Tournament.

How did you find today’s high intensity workout?
It was a good “ball in play” of 20 minutes, in climatic conditions where technically it was difficult to maintain the ball, the transmissions were not easy. Despite everything, on this trip to Lille, there will be no heavy showers but they also predict rainy weather. To see if we will play with the roof closed or not. It was good training I think. Not necessarily in the content in the first period, but the players were able to pull themselves together in the second period on the technical and rugby side. In terms of energy, everyone made the effort to support our offensive and defensive game. I am quite satisfied with the commitment of the players.

“He obviously has room for improvement but he has an atypical profile, quite unusual that we don’t necessarily have in our team at the moment”

Nicolas Jeanjean, about Posolo Tuilagi

Posolo Tuilagi should make his first start this Sunday against Italy. How do you find him since his arrival in Marcoussis?
Posolo has been working with the selection for a little over three weeks. At the club, he is used to spending more minutes. Certainly, we can highlight the difference in pace and intensity. Against Italy, there is generally a bit of a rhythm, they are a very playful team, a bit similar to Scotland. As a finisher, on his returns, he was very satisfying on a physical level. If he starts a match, I think he is able to respond favorably. He is a young player with all the energy of his youth. Obviously, within the limits that will be his, there will be the role of the finisher which will come into play. I am not necessarily too worried about Posolo.

Can he last 80 minutes at this level?
No, that’s not the goal. We are used to managing our replacements quite early, especially in this second-line position where a player rarely plays an entire match.

It has an unusual size…
He inherited all the genes of the Tuilagi family that we know well in French and European rugby. I had the chance to play with Manu (his uncle) at Leicester. They are all physically impressive with qualities of power intrinsic to their origins. But Posolo also moves. He really has energy linked to his youth. He obviously has room for improvement but he has an atypical, quite unusual profile that we don’t necessarily have in our team at the moment. This is its real added value today.

“He’s an endearing player. He has all the abilities to manage this potential pressure”

Nicolas Jeanjean, about Posolo Tuilagi

He caught up with fullback Léo Barré during training this Wednesday. Does he also have this ability to hold long races?
We saw it in this action. He is in his role as a player, that is to say, taking on all the emergencies and the action that must take place. If he has to give the maximum of his energy, his speed, his power to find a winger or a fullback, it’s up to him. We saw there that it was possible for him. I am sure that he will give the best of himself with his young abilities which are just waiting to progress.

Can he be taken by the emotion of a first tenure with the Blues, in terms of energy?
In his case, I think not. He has integrated very well into the squad. He received a standing ovation when the jerseys were handed out for his first selection. It helped him. He’s an endearing player. He has all the abilities to handle this potential pressure. He has the carefreeness of youth. Everything is sliding on him at the moment. This carefree attitude allows him not to expend too much energy in this approach to the match. »

Michaël Youn present at Blues training


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