France v Scotland: Vern Cotter expects side to face Les Bleus 'juggernaut'

France were beaten by England at Twickenham
France are looking to recover from defeat at Twickenham
Six Nations: France v Scotland
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Sunday, 12 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT (16:00 local)
Coverage: Watch live on BBC television, BBC Sport website & app. Commentary on Radio Scotland, Radio 5 live Sports Extra; Live text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Vern Cotter says that a "juggernaut" is coming Scotland's way when they play the second match of their Six Nations campaign against France in Paris.

The Scotland coach thinks that the French will be confident of their chances of winning the physical battle, and therefore the match, at Stade de France on Sunday.

"They'll believe they can overpower us," said Cotter.

"You can see that reflected in their team selection."

While the Scots were starting their campaign with a home victory over Ireland, Sunday's hosts were losing narrowly to England at Twickenham.

"They'll believe that this is the game that will set their Six Nations alight," said Cotter.

"We've seen and heard noises coming out of their camp, so it's pretty clear what's coming: a big juggernaut is going to try to roll over the top of us."

Scotland are going to Paris without Ryan Wilson, who is out of the team with an injured elbow.

John Barclay steps into the back row in place of Wilson and the fit-again John Hardie - "hard to hold back and tearing the paddock up", according to the coach - comes in on the bench.

Scotland will have three number sevens in their squad that can be classified as groundhogs on the floor - Barclay, Hamish Watson and Hardie.

The change to the French team that Cotter referred to is the introduction of Bordeaux-Begles' Loann Goujon at blind-side instead of Damien Chouly.

"Chouly is their line-out specialist, but Goujon's another ball-carrier, very similar to Louis Picamoles, so it's obvious how they are going to play," said the Scotland coach.

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and Jonny Gray arrive at Glasgow Airport
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw (left) and his team-mates were full of confidence at Glasgow Airport

"They're very heavy and powerful, very good going forward, but I want to see how they go when they have to go backwards.

"Turning them round will be key to the game. We've got to push them backwards and, if we can do that and force errors out of them, we'll free up the game. We have to be smart."

The hosts have a poor recent record in the championship and have lost their last three Tests, against Australia, New Zealand and England.

However, all three defeats were by narrow margins.

The French may not be a winning team, but there's a feeling that a new team is emerging and that better days lie ahead and beating Scotland is key to that progression.

"They have a more confident mix now," said Cotter. "When French teams are looking for a win, everybody talks about their attack, but actually it's their defence that sets it alight.

"They'll try to put a lot of speed and power into the game. They'll want to go harder and faster and try to make it as difficult for us as possible."

Losing Wilson is an undoubted set-back given his work-rate around the field, but Barclay was hugely effective when appearing early in the second half against Ireland and the return of Hardie is a boost.

"He looks great," said Cotter of the open-side. "Having his energy later in the game will be important against this team."

The oft-stated stat of Scotland not having won in Paris since 1999 is one that Cotter's team is trying to wipe from the record books.

"We want to make it a tussle," said the coach.

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