Rory Darge warned Scotland to expect a reaction from France at Murrayfield this afternoon – and insists only an 80-minute performance will be enough to win.
The French could well be brittle and licking their wounds after suffering a record 38-17 defeat to Ireland in Marseille last weekend.
They also do not have the talent of Antoine Dupont, their talismanic captain and scrum-half who decided to miss the Six Nations to focus on the Paris Olympics later this year.
Scotland got their campaign underway with a heartbreaking 27-26 victory over Wales in Cardiff last weekend.
But it was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from Gregor Townsend’s side, who held on for victory after leading 27-0 early in the second half.
Rory Darge warned Scotland to expect a strong reaction from France at Murrayfield
France suffered a record 38-17 loss to Ireland in Marseille on opening night.
As he returns to the back row after a knee injury, Scottish co-captain Darge insists any similar type of drop will be fatal against the French.
When asked about the need for an 80-minute performance, Darge said: “Yes, we are very aware.” Those are the messages we receive in most games, to play every moment. It’s easy to say and hard to do, but it’s the mindset we should have.
‘We have to be in every moment. France not only has that threat in attack. They are a real jackal threat: in almost every fight they try.
‘Being in this for 80 minutes is harder than it looks, but that’s the challenge and what we have to do.
“We are excited to be back at Murrayfield. It’s a big challenge because obviously France is going to have a big reaction after last week.
“They will probably be disappointed with the result and also with the way they played, so they will definitely come to show what they are.”
Given the absence of Dupont and fly-half Romain Ntamack, the expectation is that France could look to dominate Scotland up front. They have a pack of monsters and have often bullied Scotland into submission in the past.
But Darge insists the Scots are prepared to match the French, both “physically and emotionally”, adding: “I think they have a lot of talent outside of Dupont.” “Dupont is obviously a quality player and I actually think he helps organize the power play that they have.
Scotland got off to a winning start after narrowly beating Wales 27-26 last Saturday.
But everyone is used to it. They’ve been in that environment for quite some time and I expect nothing less than what they’ve shown in recent years.
“I think we’ll see a reaction after last week and I think they’ll use their power play with a lot of physicality and emotion.
‘We can’t worry too much about it, we have to concentrate on our physique, our emotions and do it well.
‘The physical aspect of things is something we’ve really talked about. You have to do well against them.
“Once they get into the power play, then they have the extra quality to cause problems.”
In the Six Nations clash against France two years ago, Darge made his first Test start for Scotland. He scored a try and was the shining light for the home team at Murrayfield, despite the French winning 36-17.
Scotland’s record is good in this fixture, winning five of their last seven Tests at home against Les Bleus.
Despite Antoine Dupont’s absence, Darge insists France have many threats on the pitch
“I enjoy these games; you know the physical challenge of facing France, so you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally,” Darge said.
‘Maybe that brings out the best in us. It’s easy to say that, but we have to act with the right mindset.
‘We can’t really look beyond Saturday. I know that’s the easy answer, but it’s true.
“After that, it will be tremendously exciting, but we really have to focus on Saturday. As a team and individually, it all depends on that.”