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Poitrenaud`s new attitude for a new era


Clement Poitrenaud's turnaround from flaky dilettante to committed professional will be completed on Saturday when he starts for France in their Six Nations opener against Ireland at Croke Park.

Often viewed as the darling of the French team, his style corresponding perfectly to the doctrines of rugby preached by Les Bleus, the Toulouse full-back has also been the fall guy during the team's sticky patches over the last few years.

Poitrenaud was in and out of the France side in the second half of Bernard Laporte's reign as coach, while injury and loss of form led to him being ignored by Les Bleus' new coaching team since the 2007 World Cup.

But Head Coach Marc Lièvremont has seen a new aggressive, streetwise and dedicated version of Poitrenaud this season, and he has not been able to ignore the 26-year-old's claims any longer.

Poitrenaud will this weekend make his first appearance for France since October 2007 and he intends to grab this new opportunity with both hands.

"I used to have this image of a dilettante lad and it's true that I didn't give my all in every match," he said.

"In growing up, I am more consistent and now, each time I go on the pitch, I give everything. Before I could be a little too cool.

"I've put in a lot more effort in terms of commitment - it's what allowed me to be picked for the last World Cup and it's what allowed me to return after injury (he broke his leg a year ago).

"It isn't easy to be a full-back for Toulouse, it isn't easy to convince (Toulouse coach) Guy Noves to play you, so if I've been playing since the start of the season, it's because I have been competitive.

"I feel good, and feel capable of playing at the highest level.

"The Heineken Cup matches have comforted me, and I have proved to myself that I could again play at this level. This is a personal victory for me."

Poitrenaud has improved his tackling, while he has been superb under the high ball this season - he has had to be given the often tedious and never-ending use of the kick-and-chase game in the Top 14 since the ELVs were introduced at the start of the campaign.

However, it is his graceful running and ability on the counterattack for which people remember Poitrenaud, and he has lost none of that cutting edge.

France's new regime want to practise the same attacking game as Toulouse do, so Poitrenaud should feel at home with Les Bleus during this year's Six Nations.

"The staff's message is loud and clear," added Poitrenaud.

"They want enterprising players who try things, who won't be paralysed by the pressure or by the stakes. I adhere to that completely - at Toulouse, they demand the same from us.

"I don't want to bite the hand that fed me under Bernard Laporte, but it's clear that the talk has changed here and that's something that corresponds more to me.

"The most important thing is to go and enjoy myself. I am going to be able to try things with less pressure than in the past.

"But I can't expect there to be gaps everywhere - you must play the game depending on what's in front of you.

"I have a few caps, a bit of experience and I know the only thing that counts is what happens on the pitch."

Poitrenaud's inclusion means Maxime Medard, his team-mate at Toulouse, moves to the wing at the expense of another Toulouse player, Cedric Heymans, who will be on the bench this weekend.

With Florian Fritz and Yannick Jauzion also behind the scrum for France, there will be pressure on the Toulouse contingent to provide the flair in the back division.

"We have been picked for our abilities to animate the game and be dangerous in attack," Poitrenaud said.

"We mustn't change our way of playing just because we put on the blue jersey."


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