France coach Marc Lievremont has moved to stamp out any complacency within the French camp by publicly criticising the attitude of his players in a training session ahead of Saturday's World Cup match against Japan.
The French squad has been together for two months in a long preparation period that has given Lievremont plenty of time to look at his players, and to check for any signs of sloppiness creeping in.
He did not like what he saw on Thursday afternoon.
"Satisfied with the start of the week, yesterday a bit less," Lievremont told a news conference on Friday. "There was a lot of commitment on Monday and Tuesday (with) training sessions that were quite lively. Yesterday, I thought it was a bit laboured, let's say."
If Lievremont seems keen to shake his players up, it is perhaps because he fears that the French could set themselves up for a repeat opening-day disaster if they let their guard down against John Kirwan's improving Japan team at North Harbour Stadium.
"I could do without that," he said, referring to France's defeat to Argentina in their opening match when they were hosting the tournament four years ago. "What's for sure is that we are taking this first match seriously. If we don't do things properly they have the ability to cause a lot of problems."
France captain Thierry Dusautoir, who sat next to Lievremont in Friday's news conference at the team hotel, replied that Lievremont was referring to "a lot of dropped balls" in the Thursday practice.
"That comes with feeling nervous, the challenge that's approaching," added Dusautoir, who will win his 44th cap on Saturday. "The essential thing will be to be ready tomorrow."
Dusautoir only has to cast his mind back to March to know what can happen when France loses concentration.
During the Six Nations Championship France lost 22-21 to Italy - a setback that sent French rugby into temporary turmoil and prompted Lievremont to publicly lambast his players in brutal terms.
"It served as a lesson for us," Dusautoir said. "I think the team is better equipped and stronger than it was then."
As Dusautoir was finishing his sentence, Lievremont cut in with "let's hope so."
Lievremont's challenge is to find the right balance between keeping his players mentally focused without going too far into psychological drama - like former coach Bernard Laporte did in 2007 when a letter, penned by a World War II French resistance fighter, was read out in the dressing room moments before kick-off.
The reading of the letter in 2007 had an excessively emotional effect on the players, and has become part of French rugby folklore. As in: 'How NOT to prepare for a World Cup match.'
"What is pressure? We're not going to bang our heads against the wall," Lievremont said. "Excessive pressure can work against a players' performance."
Japan's attacking threat, meanwhile, will be best dealt with by crushing their confidence early on.
"We want to impose our rugby in all its forms, so we can control the match," Lievremont said. "I could do without a close match that's decided in the last few minutes."
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