Six Nations 2014: Wales are on red alert, says Rob Howley

Matthieu Bastareaud
Matthieu Bastareaud could be used as an impact player off the bench against Wales
Six Nations 2015: France v Wales
Venue: Stade de France Date: 28 February, 2015 Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, HD, Red Button, S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra, online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley says they will be on "red alert" against a more attacking French side in the Six Nations on Saturday.

France have made five changes from their defeat to Ireland in their previous outing, with the powerful centre Mathieu Bastareaud a notable omission from the starting line-up.

Howley expects France to adopt a more adventurous approach as a result.

"It's red alert time from a defensive perspective," he said.

"I think in terms of the changes they've made, they seem to maybe want a high-risk, high-reward kind of game, keep the ball in hand.

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"There's no doubt France will want to play a ball-in-hand game.

"I think they'll play an effective counter-attacking game, so it's important we defend in the same way we've done for the last three years."

Wales, who have made four changes from their win over Scotland, are aiming to secure a fourth successive win against France for the first time since the 1950s.

Howley was in charge when Wales won at Stade de France two years ago, while he was captain in 1999 when they claimed a first victory on French soil for 24 years.

"You're always on your guard against France," he added.

"One thing through experience as a coach and a player when you go to France, the first 20 minutes are pretty key.

"I think the French crowd have a huge influence, they thrive on the French performance in that first 20 minutes.

"And if you're able to start well and control the influence that the crowd have on the game, the pressure gets bigger throughout that game."

Four of Wales' starting players on Saturday play their club rugby in France, and Howley says those members of the squad have been able to share some invaluable inside information.

"It's great to have the insight from our players," said Howley.

"They've got that ability to turn up on any given day and play fantastic rugby. They've got world class players in their backline.

"I think Fofana is an exceptional centre, and [Clermont centre] Jonathan Davies has given us a bit of an insight into Fofana and their 8-9-10 [combination]. They've got that Clermont link."

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