Momentum is everything in rugby and France head coach Jacques Brunel believes his side will be hard to stop if they can get on a roll in the Guinness Six Nations.
Brunel guided his side to fourth place in his debut Championship at the helm of Les Bleus but they were inconsistent throughout.
Wins against Italy and England were the high points but they also suffered defeats to Ireland, Scotland and Wales in a topsy-turvy campaign.
That opening-day loss to eventual Grand Slam winners Ireland was hugely significant, with Johnny Sexton’s late drop goal sending both teams on different trajectories for the rest of the Championship.
And, with France facing Wales on opening night next week, Brunel is desperate to start differently this time around.
“The opening match of the 2018 Championship was a game of near-misses and we need to win this year for confidence,” he said.
“This match is important but it will provide a great challenge under the lights in the first game of the Championship.
“The big thing for us this year is closing games out. In 2018 there were so any near misses, both in the Championship and then on the summer tour to New Zealand.
“But we have a lot of young players coming through so it takes time to learn and get that. We are very excited for what we can do this year, we are learning all the time.”
Led by the excellent hooker Guilhem Guirado and with a back line packed with explosive pace and raw power, there is a lot to like about France this year.
But their fixture list is tough, with away games scheduled in England, Italy and Ireland while Scotland join Wales in visiting the Stade de France.
Yet France are trending up and Guirado expects them to improve on their Autumn International campaign – where they won one of three matches.
“It is going to be a very tight Championship throughout and we are excited to see how we do,” Guirado said.
“We hope to do better this year in 2019, I mean it’s not an even year and that means we play away on three occasions
“Our focus is on Wales and everything that was good about the Autumn Internationals. We have to make sure we reproduce those things and do even better.”