MILTON KEYNES, 1 Oct - From golden boot to velvet glove, Frederic Michalak is turning Rugby World Cup 2015 into his very own masterclass.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre was telling anyone who wanted to listen at Stadium MK on Thursday that people regarded his decision to recall the mercurial fly-half as "crazy".
Not any more. Michalak (pictured) marked a man-of-the-match performance by becoming the highest points scorer in French World Cup history, overtaking Thierry Lacroix's tally of 124 points..
It was not just the magic wand of a foot which caught the eye on a night when Canada scored maximum points for entertainment if, ultimately, their gung-ho approach could not deliver a positive result.
Michalak's passing was as deft as his kicking, which delivered 14 points to the 41-18 scoreline. The way he held off three tackles to set up Wesley Fofana for the first try of the night was stunningly impressive too.
Then there was the cheeky chip which should have landed in Fofana's hands but the usually magnet-handed centre fumbled the opportunity.
France, at that stage, looked like they would be heading into bonus-point land of four tries without raising sweat, especially with Canada captain limping off with a worrying knee injury.
Yet the Canucks are fast becoming the side people want to watch and have showmen like DTH van Der Merwe, Nathan Hirayama and Matt Evans. They also have a big heart, turning a 17-0 deficit into a 17-12 one courtesy of two tries in four minutes from Van Der Merwe ad Aaron Carpenter.
Had Hirayama not missed his easy conversion, the score could have become even closer.
As it was, the French kept grinding, the Canadians kept trying to attack even when consolidation might have been wiser and five tries meant the bonus point was collected with Pascal Pape's touchdown. Remy Grosso, on his debut, also scored a try.
"It's a great moment for me, my wife and my son but, more importantly, the team got the win and we got the bonus point," Grosso said.
Saint-Andre added: "The first half was great, we kept the ball and was clever in our game plan. Then after 30 minutes, we lost our intensity and lost two contests in the air allowing the Canadians to take advantage."
The Canucks lost Ardron,Matt Evans and Aaron Carpenter, which did not please coach Kieran Crowley.
"We have four major injuries and three games in 11 days. You wouldn’t ask France or Ireland to do that, would you?” said Crowley at the post match press conference. “But it’s the hand we have been dealt. It’s going to be a struggle but we will do it and be out there 100 per cent against Romania. We may have a plane load of players coming from Canada."
Les Bleus now face Ireland on the 11th October, in what will be the deciding match for the winner of Pool D and a potential quarter-final match with New Zealand for the losers.
Canada face fellow strugglers Romania and will be hoping to restore some pride. Both teams will be looking for wins for very different reasons.