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Fickou credits Galthié for France improvement

Fickou credits Galthié for France improvement

Gael Fickou

France’s improvement over the past 12 months has been well-documented and Gaël Fickou puts the credit squarely at the door of Fabien Galthié and his staff.

Fickou made his international debut back in 2013, so the versatile back is well-placed to assess the merits of the latest coaching regime.

The 57-cap international is the most experienced player in the France squad, despite still only being 26 years old, and has already played under four head coaches for Les Bleus.

And according to him, Galthié’s staff, with specialists for each role, put the players in the best conditions to thrive.

In an interview with L’Equipe, Fickou said: “We have a very good current generation, even if there have always been talented players in the France team, but what makes the difference is that we benefit from a more substantial staff.

“Each sector has its specialist whereas before, there was just the head coach, a guy for the forwards and another for the backs.

“There are also the working conditions. When I started out, Philippe Saint-André already asked to have more players available during the training camps to work better, or to arrive two weeks before the first match.

“Before that, you landed the week of the match, you did two training sessions and presto, you played!

“A lot of things have been put in place to allow us to progress, to be more efficient. Finally, the expertise of Fabien (Galthié) is decisive.

“Everything is analysed, more precise, we train much harder too. Four years ago, we didn’t train like we do today. The bar has been raised. All this, put side by side, allows for better results.”

France’s opening game of the Autumn Nations Cup against Fiji was cancelled due to a number of positive Covid-19 tests in the Fijian camp, with Les Bleus eventually awarded five points for the encounter.

They now travel to Scotland, where they suffered their only defeat during the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, this weekend knowing victory would keep their fate very much in their own hands ahead of a final Group B clash with Italy.

And Fickou explained how match preparation has changed for France since the arrival of Galthié and his staff.

He added: “Before, we never made contact during the week, we never did so many tough sessions.

“Sometimes we think we’re going to be burnt out for the game. But ultimately, no. We recover very well.

“A high-level match requires so much intensity and precision that it has become an obligation to train like this.

“It allows you to set benchmarks, replicate match situations when fatigued and under pressure. Otherwise, you can’t compete. It’s trying but we understand it.”

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