France are “on alert,” according to prop Cyril Baille, before meeting world champions South Africa in the Autumn Nations Series in Marseille on Saturday.

France defeated Australia by a point in their first game this weekend, just hours after the Rugby World Cup champions were defeated by Ireland, who cemented their top spot in the rankings.

We’re always on guard, and we’ll keep learning.”

Next week, loosehead Baille, 29, will face a veteran Boks front row, including Vincent Koch and Frans Malherbe, who helped their team win the Webb Ellis Trophy in 2019.

“We know how they won the World Cup; they had a huge scrum and were monstrous with their outstanding backs,” Baille explained.

“We expect a challenging game and will put in the required components to do well.”

Despite playing only 34 minutes this season due to a groyne ailment, Baille earned his 38th cap against the Wallabies.

The Toulouse forward, one of eight from the club named to the matchday squad against Australia, will face former teammate Cheslin Kolbe, who spent four seasons at Stade Ernest-Wallon before joining Toulon in August 2021.

“It’s always nice to see an old buddy,” Baille stated.

“I’m thrilled for him since he’s frequently a starter for South Africa.

“We’ll all be glad to see him, but it’ll be stressful for the next 80 minutes.”

The ‘Path’ to the World Cup

Thibaud Flament is expected to trail Baille in the French pack. Toulouse is on his third season with the 25-year-old lock.

Flament compared the Springboks’ second row, which included Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, to World Rugby player of the year Brodie Retallick in 2014.

“They are excellent players, some of the greatest in the world in their position, and it’s always inspiring to play against the best,” Flament told reporters.

“It’s like playing against Brodie Retallick in New Zealand; it’s incentive.”

The meeting on the Mediterranean coast on Saturday comes 10 months before the commencement of the Rugby World Cup in France, where the teams might meet in the quarter-finals.

The Springboks are France’s last opponent in the top ten of the world rankings since Fabien Galthie took over as head coach three years ago.

“It’s part of the journey to the World Cup,” Flament explained.

“We haven’t played them yet, but they’re the World Cup holders, so it’ll be a good test.”

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