France coach Guy Noves was quick to deflect talk from this Saturday’s second Test by remaining in full reflection of his team’s 37-14 first Test defeat at Loftus.
Noves was in no mood to lay bare his battle plans for the clash in Durban and some may suggest it may be because he has a trick up his sleeve.
From the moment he announced his team for the opening Test, there had been the suspicion that the players he opted to rest in the first Test would be required to make a huge impact in the second.
Noves thought it prudent to leave out the Clermont and Toulon players who played in last weekend’s Top 14 final.
That includes captain and hooker Guilhem Guirado‚ centre Damian Penaud‚ prop Xavier Chiocci‚ lock Romain Taofifenua and fullback Scott Spedding.
In addition, flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc and lock Paul Jedriazak‚ who were not original selections‚ have joined the squad as replacements for Camille Lopez and Arthur Iturria.
Add to that first choice tighthead Rabah Slimani is likely to return to fitness this week.
Reserve scrumhalf Antoine Dupont should also be available but he is unlikely to feature in the match day 23 with Baptiste Serin and Maxime Machenaud likely to command those places.
Slimani‚ who has struggled with a back injury since training last Monday‚ will be a welcome addition to the French pack who Noves felt was outmuscled by the Springboks.
"Individually and collectively, we were dominated physically. So it was very difficult to put our game in place‚" Noves sighed.
At 137kg, starting tighthead Uini Atonio may be a man mountain‚ but he did not make the desired impact at Loftus.
He was penalised‚ and not just for indiscretions at the scrum, and the more technically proficient Slimani will bring greater stability to the pack.
Noves lamented his side’s defence, suggesting they missed too many tackles.