France coach Marc Lievremont insisted on Saturday that the naming of Philippe Saint-Andre as his replacement after the World Cup would not undermine his authority at the tournament next month.
Lievremont, who has been in charge since being the surprise choice to replace Bernard Laporte after the 2007 World Cup, also hinted that he had taken the decision not to seek a second term as coach because he didn't think that he would secure it.
Lievremont - who was chosen ahead of Saint Andre and former France captain Fabien Galthie for the job - delivered the Six Nations Grand Slam last year, their first since 2004.
However, he has also seen them beaten by huge margins by Argentina in two tests, a record home defeat by Australia and an historic Six Nations loss to Italy since then.
"As regards me, it is true that my departure has been public knowledge for a while," said the 42-year-old former back row forward, who was a member of the team beaten by Australia in the 1999 World Cup final.
"I am not going to say that I chose to leave because I don't think I would have been kept on in any case."
"Certain people believe that the announcement of my successor could erode my authority and affect the France team's campaign (at the World Cup).
"I really don't see that happening. The players are sufficiently focussed to realise that it is under us (the present coaching staff) that they will play this World Cup.
"What happens afterwards is not important right now."
Lievremont, whose fellow coaches Emile N'tamack and Didier Retiere will be assigned other duties after the World Cup, said he would not comment on whether he thought Toulon sporting director Saint-Andre was the right choice.
"I will not voice my opinion, not today (Saturday) in any case, on my successor," said Lievremont, whose side begin their World Cup campaign against Japan on September 10th in New Zealand.
"I appreciate Philippe. I don't know him very well, even if I played a little under his captaincy when I began playing for France.
"What I can say, is that I have always appreciated his restraint and his class for the past three-and-a-half years, which has not been the case with all the former players.
"I have neither judged nor assessed whether he is the man for the job."
Saint-Andre, 44 and capped 69 times including 34 as captain, made his name as a coach largely in England with spells at Gloucester and Sale with whom he won the English Premiership in 2006.
He then took on the role of sporting director at big-spending Toulon where he has had mixed success over two seasons.
He took them to their first ever European Cup spot and into the last eight last term, but then they fell away badly in the Top 14 and failed to reach the play-offs.
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