Dimitri Tachvili is doubtful for France

by Staff Writer

France faces the prospect of being without top kicker Dimitri Yachvili when they face Wales in the Rugby World Cup 2011 semi-final on Saturday night at Eden Park.

The scrum half was stricken with a dead leg in the quarter-final against England last weekend but kept on kicking in the match, causing bleeding around the injured area.

He was named to the starting XV when France named their squad earlier this week, and on Thursday French kicking coach Gonzalo Quesada told a press conference that Yachvili may not be fit to face the Welsh.

"We will see,'' said Quesada. "He has been recovering properly and his best training this week has been to recover, to look after his leg.

"We will wait until then last minute before we decide whether he will be kicking or not."

Quesada left no doubt that Yachvili did not help his injury by continuing to kick in the quarter-final against England.

"He kicked after being injured and that aggravated his injury and that is why he has been relaxing,'' he said.

Kicking accuracy

The loss of Yachvili would be a blow for the French. He has scored six out of nine conversions in the tournament, along with nailing nine out of 10 penalties. His overall success rate is 71 per cent.

Coincidentally, the French raised the possibility of losing their top kicker only a few hours before Wales announced that their top kicker, Rhys Priestland, would miss the match with an injured shoulder.

The French could turn to fly half Morgan Parra, who handled the job in the pool match against Canada.

Despite the injury to Yachvili, the France can still claim more players with big match experience than the Welsh, though they downplayed any notion of favouritism.

"No,'' said number 8 Imanol Harinordoquy. "It is always a danger when you are the favourite. We prefer to be the outsider.''

Harinordoquy then reflected on what happened the last time France was in an RWC semi-final.

"In 2007 we relaxed too much and we thought we had won the game before we played it against a team that was not as experienced as we were. We have to be of better mind on Saturday."

England beat France 14-9 in that match.

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