France captain Thierry Dusautoir said he and his team may have come out of the World Cup final with their heads held high but they can afford no slip-ups against Italy in their Six Nations opener on Saturday.
The 30-year-old world player of the year - outstanding in the 8-7 World Cup final defeat by the All Blacks - said it was vital they start the campaign and the first match of coach Philippe Saint-Andre's reign with a win in front of their home fans at the Stade de France.
"Obviously coming so close to winning the World Cup was an immense disappointment," said the Ivory Coast-born flank, who has earned the sobriquet of the 'Dark Destroyer'.
"We were disappointed, distraught even, but it is imperative to prepare for the future and that is the match against Italy."
Dusautoir, set to win his 50th cap on Saturday having made his debut in 2006 against Romania, is well aware France suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Italy last year, one of many bizarre reverses they endured in the rollercoaster four year reign of Marc Lievremont.
However, the Toulouse star, who has won two French titles and the 2010 European Cup since arriving from Biarritz in 2006, said there would be nobody taking their opponents for granted as might have been the case last year.
"Italy lost to Australia at the World Cup (in the pool stage) but were on level terms at half-time against a team who scored 60 points against us the year before," said Dusautoir.
"This is not the Italy of a few years ago. Last year we lost to them but it was only logical after the progress they have made.
"We are going to approach this match knowing how important it is to win the first game, and for a win in Paris in front of our supporters."
Dusautoir, who has a degree in Chemistry and Physics, said it was hard to tell whether Saint-Andre's modus operandus was different to that of Lievremont's.
But Dusautoir said the former France skipper and wing realised like the players that despite reaching the World Cup final there were things needing improving.
"We reached the World Cup final well aware that there were several areas needing improvement," said Dusautoir.
"With regard to Saint-Andre, it is too early to tell. The emphasis has been placed on communication, to get the players to express their views, to say what they think.
"There have been lots of meetings, collectively as well as individually, to sort out the in-house rules."
Dusautoir unlike several of his World Cup team-mates such as fellow backrow forward Imanol Harinordoquy is loathe to criticise Lievremont, who according to some was all but ignored by the players towards the end of the tournament.
"It is he who made me captain, who made it possible for me to play in that World Cup," said Dusautoir, who also had an outstanding 2007 World Cup when France reached the semifinals.
"I give him credit for that. Aside from that things sometimes became a little complicated with regards to communicating outside the camp.
"That is what exacerbated the misunderstandings. With regards to his remark about us being 'spoilt brats' I think it was pointless to have said that to the press.
"He had every right to tell us that to our faces."
Dusautoir, who also won two French titles when he was at Biarritz, said that being named world player of the year had not really changed his life.
"It hasn't altered my daily life but the way people look at me is more friendly and more respectful.
"I couldn't say whether it is because of France's World Cup campaign or for me personally.
"It is thanks to the team's efforts in the World Cup that I received the award and I am very appreciative of my team-mates and the national team."
Dusautoir was typically self-deprecatory with regard to his being named among the sexiest rugby players in the world.
"Yes, came second there!" he said laughing.
"I have been subject to a lot of jealous looks, a lot of opinions thrown in my direction.
"I have come to the conclusion that there is a lot of bitterness in this team who haven't a lot of confidence in their physique.
"I will take this chance through the press to say to them (the players) that after their career they should still look after their bodies and try and to get to my level of physique."
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