“Some have raised their hands, others have not yet,” says Ronan O’Gara

Yes. Because it was good to get up on Sunday morning with a victory when it was not obvious live, but also to see the players go after it like that. There was not much difference between the two teams, the conditions were difficult but when we had to show what we were capable of, we managed to be precise and score a try. I like it a lot and it’s important…

Yes. Because it was good to get up on Sunday morning with a victory when it was not obvious live, but also to see the players go after it like that. There was not much difference between the two teams, the conditions were difficult but when we had to show what we were capable of, we managed to be precise and score a try. I like it a lot and it’s important, because the consequences of a defeat on Saturday could have done a lot of harm to this group. But it’s a 3rd victory in a row before Northampton, it would be nice to remain undefeated in Europe before looking at the Top 14 with a lot of confidence.

Your Ulster alter ego, Dan McFarland, said it was the mark of great teams to know how to step up when needed…

Yes, it’s the DNA of this group, because what’s good at the moment is that it’s never the same team. We don’t have the same dependence on certain players. Don’t forget that fourteen or eight months ago, if X, Y or Z didn’t play, there was a bit of panic in the group. But when you perform like we did on Saturday, it gives you more confidence. Every player is a little different here. There is a lot of experience but also players like Quentin (Lespiaucq, editor’s note), Antoine (Hastoy) who had never played in the Champions Cup, “Sandro” (Aleksandre Kuntelia, editor’s note) either, it was his first match. Their journey is just beginning, to perform, feel comfortable and show the player you are, it takes 10 games in this competition. But there is a lot more competition than before in this team.

Do you know the length of unavailability of Thierry Paiva, victim of a shoulder dislocation on Saturday?

He had surgery yesterday (Wednesday), it will take three or four months, I think. It’s time to leave him alone, I think it went well and like everyone who has been injured here before him, he will come back a better player. It’s a difficult period but he will be able to work on himself and invest in the things he needs to improve. Will we take a joker? We’re looking at the options but Joel (Sclavi) was magnificent on the left against Ulster, we’re going to lose Reda (Wardi, called up by the Blues, editor’s note) but Leo (Aouf) will be back this weekend or the next. It will also depend on the availability of the other left pillars, it is not interesting to take a joker to take a joker. At the moment, we don’t have a very hot track.

“William “Holiday” Skelton (laughs). This is the headline of this weekend. I think there is a good holiday club here, with Yoan Tanga doing this role very well, William Skelton…”

These last two seasons, you were rather spared from injuries. Is the current situation a new experience for the staff and the group?

Yes. This is the key in France, you don’t need a strong team, but a strong group. Some have raised their hands, some haven’t yet, some are in the “disappointing” category, some surprise me, others, like young people especially, make me wonder why they aren’t playing. I have decisions to make, reflections to carry out. For example, Hoani (Bosmorin) is just 18 years old, it doesn’t show in training but I have to protect him, even if I think he can do something in my team. That’s why my job is magnificent, I have to create the conditions to see it in its best light. It’s the same with “Zam” (Lucas Zamora), who makes an offensive tackle against Arthur Retière (against Toulouse). It’s a non-verbal message that I respect. If he has no reward, he will not do more.

Will this trip be with or without Will Skelton?

Without… William “holiday” Skelton (laughs). This is the headline of this weekend. I think there is a good holiday club here, with Yoan Tanga who does this role very well, William Skelton… It’s good to have someone like Rémi Picquette, it’s his time to give something to the team, as we saw last season. He’s been a bit slow to find his rhythm this season but he’s doing it. Last season, nobody talked about Will Skelton when he was injured, that’s the best compliment I can give Rémi. Jules Favre, his strength is his consistency. Rémi, it’s not the case, I’m trying to improve that. It can be 9/10 then 2/10. I like it, but there is Thomas Jolmes in the France team, why isn’t it Rémi? But I’m very comfortable with guys who are injured, because the “show goes on” in the big clubs, here it is, we need Will to come back to 100 %, not at 95, and with all his contagious energy for his team and disturbing others.

The Tournament period is coming, are you disappointed that some of your players are not included in the list of 42 of the France team ?

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