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Wales ready for versatile France, says Reffell

Wales face France on Sunday in the Rugby Six Nations. Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Wales might have registered three losses from their opening three games of this year’s Six Nations, but in Tommy Reffell they have one of the tournament’s stand-out performers.

The Leicester openside flanker has so far notched up 46 tackles, six turnovers and been involved in more than 120 rucks. It is fair to say his indefatigable displays have caught the eye.

Wales have lost to Scotland, England and Ireland, but take on France in Cardiff on Sunday seeking to buck four successive Six Nations losses to Les Bleus.

France themselves have floundered, beaten heavily by the Irish before scraping past Scotland and only able to come away with a draw against Italy last time out.

Reffell, however, was not willing to get too carried away.

“We go one game at a time. Obviously, it’d be great for us to get a win, but also we want to put a performance in this week. That’s been a massive message,” said Reffell, who has more than made up for the absence through injury of World Cup co-captain Jac Morgan.

“Results obviously haven’t gone our way. As a team, we’re disappointed with the results, but we’re looking to build each week, put a performance in, fight to the end for each other.”

France coach Fabien Galthie has made eight changes to his squad for Sunday’s showdown, but Reffell said the alterations were indicative of the strength of French rugby.

“France are a great team,” he said. “They’ve shown that over the last few years. They’ve got strength right through their squad.

“It’s a traditional French pack, with such power and aggression, their players play for some of the best teams in the world.”

Forward power, however, was not all they offered, according to Reffell.

“That’s a credit to them, they can mix it up, they’ve got power, a big pack, and flair in the backs,” he said, adding that it was crucial Wales manage “to nullify certain aspects”.

A win, the dynamic 24-year-old flanker said, “would be massive for the squad especially with us being a young squad”.

“It’s a tough challenge.”

Versatile France

Wales coach Warren Gatland saw a raft of experienced players leaving the international stage after the World Cup, forcing the New Zealander into drafting in a host of younger players.

“There are a lot of young players in the squad,” Reffell acknowledged, not least newly installed skipper Dafydd Jenkins, aged 21.

Jenkins has been switched from lock to blindside flanker alongside Reffell and No 8 Aaron Wainwright.

“I think he’ll fit in at 6, he gives 100 percent all the time, he’s a natural rugby player,” Reffell said of his captain.

Jenkins said his positional switch was not as much a change as outsiders might think.

“I’m just going to play my game like I normally do and probably just the only change is the set piece, the starter plays, where you are off them, but around the park, it is pretty much a similar role,” he said.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity.”

Jenkins also highlighted France’s versatility, with the team not only prepped for a “massive physical battle, but also that off-loading game”.

“From the first week, we were desperate to win. But in terms of staying composed, I think we’ve built on game on game and I feel like we’ve got better.”

Standings provided by Sofascore

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