France 'on alert' for South Africa despite world champions' Ireland loss

Prop Cyril Baille said France are "on alert" before facing world champions South Africa in the Autumn Nations Series in Marseille next Saturday.

France beat Australia by a point in their opening game this weekend hours after the Rugby World Cup winners lost to Ireland, who consolidated their place at the top of the rankings.

"We're always on alert for this type of match," Baille told reporters on Saturday after his country's record 11th straight victory.

"We know too well that international matches are won and lost on the fundamentals and the details.

"We're always on alert and we'll continue to learn."

Loose-head Baille, 29, is set to face an experienced Boks front row next week, coming up against the likes of Vincent Koch and Frans Malherbe, who helped their country to the Webb Ellis trophy in 2019.

"We know how they became world champions, they had a monstrous scrum and were monstrous with their fantastic backs," Baille said.

"We're expecting a very tough game and we'll put in the necessary ingredients to play well too."

Baille won his 38th cap against the Wallabies despite playing just 34 minutes this season due to a groin injury.

The Toulouse forward, one of eight from the club in the matchday squad against Australia, is set to feature against former team-mate Cheslin Kolbe after the outside back spent four seasons at Stade Ernest-Wallon before joining Toulon in August 2021.

"It's always a pleasure to see a friend again," Baille said.

"I'm very happy for him because he's often a starter with South Africa.

"We will all be happy to see him but for 80 minutes it will be intense."

- 'Path' to World Cup -

Thibaud Flament is set to be behind Baille in the French pack. The 25-year-old lock is in his third season at Toulouse.

Flament compared the Springboks second rows, including Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, to 2014 World Rugby player of the year Brodie Retallick.

"They are great players, who are some of the best in the world in their position and it's always motivating to play against those who know best," Flament told reporters.

"It's like playing New Zealand, being up against Brodie Retallick, it's a motivation."

Saturday's meeting on the Mediterranean coast comes 10 months from the start of the Rugby World Cup in France, where the teams could face each other in the quarter-finals.

The Springboks are the last nation ranked in the top 10 of the world rankings for France to face since Fabien Galthie took over as head coach three years ago.

"It's part of the path to the World Cup," Flament said.

"We haven't faced them yet, they're the World Cup holders so it's a good challenge."

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