France might be the defending Guinness Six Nations champions, but for Fabien Galthié, they are still a long way from the finished article.
Les Bleus enjoyed a dream 2022, winning the Grand Slam and going unbeaten in the calendar year with ten wins from ten.
They are currently on a winning streak of 13 matches and could conceivably equal the world record with a second successive slam, a feat that has not yet been achieved in the Guinness Six Nations era.
But despite those impressive performances, Galthié believes his team have a lot more to give and insists they will not be resting on their laurels.
He said: “Since we took over three years ago, we have played 30 matches. There will be five matches in this Championship, plus four preparation games before the World Cup, and potentially seven more if reach the World Cup final.
“That would be 16 more, more than half what we have already played. This is a team that is still developing, when you look at the age of the players. And we have identified areas of improvement, we have good moments but also times when we struggle.”
Injuries have hit France in their build-up, with Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villière and Cameron Woki all ruled out of the start of the Championship, at least, having played a key part in last year’s success.
That will mean opportunities for more up-and-coming players, as France look to defend their title.
Although for Galthié, the question of whether it is a title defence or a quest for another title is a philosophical one which will form part of their preparation.
He explained: “Are we defending a title or going to get a title?
“That is the question we will ask amongst ourselves and that will give us a collective vision.
“Because when we took on this team three years ago, we said we wanted to win matches quickly, we wanted to win titles and we wanted to become a force in world rugby again.
“That was three years ago, and we are still working on the structure we put in place three years ago.
“So if we look at the sense of the mission, it is to win games, win titles and to remain a force in world rugby.
“And we share all that with the players, because we put the framework in place, but the heroes, those who play, are out there.”
France kick off their campaign away in Rome on February 5, looking to get the better of Italy before a trip to the side ranked number one in the world, Ireland, in Round 2.