France forward Imanol Harinordoquy has slammed his coach Marc Lievremont for criticising the French players in public after they were beaten last weekend by Tonga in the Rugby World Cup.
Harinordoquy has been named in France’s starting line at No.8 to face England at Eden Park after he came off the bench in the 19-14 loss to Tonga.
Coach Lievremont took the loss to Tonga hard and spoke publicly of his “shame” over the performance by his players and compared them to the disgraced France squad which went into meltdown at last year’s football World Cup.
“I am not happy because all the media know what he said,” Harinordoquy told The Telegraph.
“I think there are things that have to stay in the room when you speak between the coach and players.
“He can say that to us, that is not a problem, but I prefer that those kind of things stay in the room.”
Lievremont branded his players as cowards after they lost to Italy in the Six Nations earlier this year and there have been many reports of a rift in the French camp at the Rugby World Cup.
France’s performance against Tonga was arguably their weakest in a decade and Harinordoquy who will win his 75th cap this weekend admitted that they have to improve on the form they showed in the Pool stages.
“We have to change our mentality for this match,” he said. “To be more aggressive, to fight, to play like we know we can.
“The props, the locks and the back row have to think about the fight first, not think about the game.
“I don’t know if they are a stronger side than us, but I do know it will be a tough match.
“I don’t know if there will be a lot of passing in this match, but there will be a lot of fighting.
“We will have to have a big defence, good discipline and to score points when we have the chance.”
England and France know each other well in the Rugby World Cup as England have knocked France out in the last two World Cups but Harinordoquy is hoping for “third time lucky” on Saturday.
“This is the most important match for us,” he said.
“It can be the match which makes the difference for everybody, for us, for our supporters, for France… I hope the competition will start for us on Saturday.”