- Fly half praises his former coach Philippe Saint-Andre saying he will demand the best from France
- “He knows exactly what he wants from his players and tells you how it is” - Hodgson
Photo: Getty Images
Fly half Charlie Hodgson says France Head Coach Philippe Saint-Andre will demand the very best from his squad as they prepare to face England in Paris on Sunday.
Saint-Andre coached Hodgson at Sale Sharks between 2004 and 2009, helping the club win the 2005 European Challenge Cup and a Premiership title the following season.
Now playing his rugby at Saracens, Hodgson says he is looking forward to coming up against his former coach and credits much of his own understanding of the game to his time under Saint-Andre.
“[He’s] very knowledgeable about the game,” the 31-year-old said. “He never really seemed to stop thinking about it. He knows exactly what he wants from his players and tells you how it is. I enjoyed working under him. I learnt a lot about the game and my understanding of the game under him. I’m looking forward to catching up with him this weekend.”
Saint-Andre took over from Marc Lievremont after last year's World Cup and asked if he felt the former wing was the right man to galvanise France, Hodgson said: “They [France] obviously think so. He is a good man to have around and he is very knowledgeable. He understands the fine details of it.
“Obviously him being a past player, him being on the wing, he understood that the only way he was going to get the ball was if the backs perform and if the forwards are going to go forward.
“He was very adamant that the forwards played well and provided a good platform for everybody else and I’m sure that’s what he demands from his current French team.”
Photo: Getty Images
Hodgson missed France’s draw with Ireland as he was busy with club duties, kicking six penalties in Saracens’ 18-12 Aviva Premiership win over Northampton Saints.
But from his analysis work within the England training this week, he said France had shown “fight” in the second half to get back into the game from a 17-6 deficit at half time.
He added: “We are expecting a really tough battle at the weekend. Playing at the Stade de France in front of what is always an emotional crowd getting behind their team – it’s a tough place to play.
“The lads are looking forward to it a lot. We are really looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we can be successful there.”
Having been sidelined by a finger injury for the Wales game, Hodgson returns on the bench against Les Bleus and says he is heartened by the progress the squad has made since coming together in January.
“It’s a big ask really to get a new group of players together and expect them to be successful from the off but the pleasing thing is that we have showed good steps through those three games,” he said. “We didn’t really get anything going forward against Scotland but there was progress in the Italy game and we progressed again against Wales and created quite a few opportunities to score.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t do that but I guess the main thing is that we were creating them in the first place. So ultimately there is still a long way for us to go but the pleasing thing is that we are going in the right direction.”