France’s star centre Wesley Fofana does not want his first appearance at this World Cup against Romania on Wednesday to end as it did for South Africa against Japan.
The 27-year-old Clermont ace returns to the side after a groin injury prevented him playing in France’s opening 32-10 win over Italy.
While he admits he knows little about his Pool D opponents for the game at London’s Olympic stadium – long gone are the days when under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaucescu they threatened to break up the monopoly of European rugby powerhouses – he says Japan’s 34-32 win over the Springboks has been a wake up call for every team.
The French know from bitter experience taking teams for granted can be costly.
They lost to Tonga in a pool game in 2011 and Romania caused a big upset in a Test match in 1990 beating them 12-6, costing coach Jacques Fouroux his job. It was an inauspicious test debut for present coach Philippe Saint-Andre.
“The Japanese result has shown everybody that no game is won in advance,” Fofana told French radio.
“Nobody gave the Japanese a hope in hell.”
Fofana is one of 13 changes made by Saint-Andre to his starting line-up against Italy but the only one who is realistically in line to begin the final and potentially table-topping clash with Six Nations champions Ireland in Cardiff on October 11.
However, Fofana echoed Saint-Andre’s mantra for the game that he did not want to see individuals going for glory but a good all round team performance with each player playing for the others.
“I would say the main objective is a team one not a personal one,” he said.
“We will respect this team and and are eager to put together a superb team performance.
“It is by performing well as a unit the individual qualities will come to the surface.”
Fofana, who would have liked to have got a bit of game time against Italy but accepted Saint-Andre’s decision to give him more time to rest, said the Romanians had the propensity to niggle them and try to jolt them out of their rhythm.
“We are stronger than them but they have the ability to get under our skin,” said Fofana.
“It is imperative that we play to the level expected of the favourites for this match.
Romania’s Welsh coach Lynn Howells has decided to field the most experienced Romanian side ever to play at a World Cup.
Mihai Macovei leads a Romania starting XV with an average age of 29 years 134 days, has an overall total of 684 Test appearances, 37 higher than the 647 appearances of the team that started the 34-24 defeat by Scotland in the 2011 edition.