Serge Betsen has backed France’s back-row to bully England at the breakdown when the two teams meet in the NatWest 6 Nations on Saturday.
Scotland’s Calcutta Cup victory against England two weeks ago was centred around their expert work at the breakdown, with captain John Barclay forcing three penalties alone.
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Eddie Jones has stayed loyal to his players though and has again selected Courtney Lawes, Chris Robshaw and Nathan Hughes to lead the charge in Paris – where they must win to keep their Championship bid on track.
But former flanker Betsen, who won 63 caps for France, can see the hosts coming out on top.
“In the back-row England have got some second rows who maybe have less speed and who are really tall. It’s a handicap for them in that aspect of the game,” he told the BBC.
“The French forwards are really effective in that area and especially a player like [prop] Jefferson Poirot.
“Wenceslas Lauret and Yacouba Camara are experts in the back row and Marco Tauleigne will bring a lot of dynamism in open play.”
England have been hit hard by injuries, with Sam Underhill ruled out of this match and Billy Vunipola the entire Championship.
But Sam Simmonds is back among the replacements and Jones insists his side will back at their best against France.
“At the moment, with the players we have available, this is the best back row we have,” Jones said.
“Technically we got the breakdown wrong against Scotland and they were much better than us in that area, but we’ll get it right for France.”