France coach Marc Lievremont has talked up his team's chances of winning the World Cup, insisting that their lengthy and intense preparations have given them real hope of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy.
"You only take part in a competition with the ambition of winning it," he told a press conference at the team's training centre just outside Paris.
"There are some steps to take, we need to progress through the pool matches to assure our qualification. (But) I will be disappointed if we are not champions of the world."
The French side have benefitted from over two months together and responded by winning both of their warm-up matches against Ireland.
"This is a real chance for the French team. For the first time in my four years in charge we had the resources and the time to get to know each other and work on fitness and on our rugby.
"I am happy with that but it is what follows that will determine whether it was all worth it. Now, it is all systems go."
Lievremont admitted that the preparations did have their set-backs, notably the expulsion from the squad of winger Yoann Huget who failed a doping test and the tearful exit of veteran prop Sylvain Marconnet who was one of just three players - the others were Huget and Clermont prop Thomas Domingo - who failed to make the final 30.
"Overall, though, we cannot say that there were big problems," said Lievremont.
"We are pleased with these two months and the two warm-up matches."
Another shadow which crept across the horizon this past week was the decision by the French rugby federation to announce Philippe Saint-Andre as Lievremont's successor after the World Cup. However, the incumbent said that would not alter the mindset of his squad.
"Certain people believe that the announcement of my successor could erode my authority and affect the France team's campaign," said Lievremont.
"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," he added.
Lievremont, who took over from Bernard Laporte after the 2007 World Cup, won the 2010 Six Nations but his stock has gone down in the last 12 months following a record defeat at home to Australia in November and a first-ever loss to Italy in the Six Nations.
Even so, the former loose forward, who featured in the 1999 World Cup final, has no regrets about taking on the job.
"I was not expecting it. I was surprised to have been chosen, I never had ambitions to be the French coach," he said.
"Even if it hasn't all been good times, I have taken a great deal of pleasure in it and it will obviously remain an exceptional experience that I hope to finish well."
France begin their World Cup campaign against Japan on September 10. Tonga, Canada and hosts New Zealand make up Pool A.
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