KUMAMOTO, 29 Sep – France's Sebastien Vahaamahina says his team will not be complacent when they face the USA in their second Pool C match in Fukuoka on Wednesday, having seen less fancied sides upset the odds in the tournament.
Japan's win over Ireland inspired the host nation on Saturday, but Vahaamahina, pictured, says it was Uruguay's earlier victory over Fiji that served as a warning as France prepare to take on USA, who are ranked six places below them at 13th.
"That is a warning to us," Vahaamahina said about Uruguay's 30-27 win over Fiji, the South Americans' first Rugby World Cup win in 16 years. "That's how we have to take it - we mustn't relax but, on the contrary, build and lift the level of our game."
Vahaamahina said he was impressed by aspects of the USA's performance in their 45-7 defeat by England last Thursday. "Playing the English isn't easy," the 27-year-old second-row said. "We saw that this USA team was physical, very well organised. They've got a few guys who can carry the ball."
France centre Gael Fickou (FRA) is also predicting a tough physical encounter clash with the Eagles.
"It's quite a direct style of rugby, with very physical players," he said. "They don't move the ball around very well but they bring a lot of intensity, desire.
"It's a team which will want to hurt us, attack us, block us. It's up to us to be ready. If we add the right ingredients, we should win this match in the right way."
Vahaamahina admitted that he and his team-mates are finding it hard to battle the Japanese heat in training and matches.
¡Un momento inolvidable en el Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium! Así, los jugadores y los hinchas de #Uruguay 🇺🇾 celebraron la victoria ante Fiji #RWC2019 #VamosTeros #WebbEllisCup #EmpujamosJuntos pic.twitter.com/lyI1MANK77— U.R.U. (@RugbyUruguay) September 25, 2019
Jacques Brunel's side are currently based in Kumamoto on Japan's southern-most main island of Kyushu, where temperatures have been nearing 30C, with humidity close to 80 per cent.
Vahaamahina, who is playing his first Rugby World Cup, does not expect conditions to improve before they face USA at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, so they are taking steps in training to ensure they do not wilt in the heat.
"It's difficult to string things together on the pitch," he said. "All of a sudden you feel cooked.
"You need to manage yourself to maintain your intensity for longer and stay lucid.
"That was an interesting aspect of the session today - in spite of the fact the sun was beating down and that we had to run, we stayed on track."
France are eight days into a 10-day break between their 23-21 win over Argentina in their opening match and the clash with the Eagles.
"We're keen to play, keen for the days of training to go by quickly so we can get to the match," number eight Gregory Alldritt said.
"We had quite a few things to address after Argentina. We have built on that win in the right way."