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France flyhalf faces SA tourists for first time and he will be a handful says former Bok assistant coach

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CLERMONT flyhalf Camille Lopez has been singled out as the biggest threat facing the Springboks when they clash with France in Paris on Saturday night.

That’s according to former Bok assistant coach and current assistant to Heyneke Meyer at Stade Francais in Paris, John McFarland.

Four of that club’s players are likely to face the Boks this weekend, but it is Clermont’s Lopez who the Boks should be most cautious of this Saturday.

“He’s a left-footer, with a good pass and he likes taking the ball to the line,” said McFarland yesterday.

“Camille is in top form right now for Clermont and has played a big part in their success this season. He’s good at putting players into holes and will be a guy the Boks must keep an eye on.”

Lopez is back in the French team 18 months after suffering a horrific ankle injury and is set to earn his 17th cap this weekend. He has not faced the Boks before.

According to McFarland, his scrumhalf Baptiste Serin and backs Teddy Thomas and Gael Fickou are also players the Boks have to show plenty of respect to.

“Serin has a quick passing game, while Teddy is a real finisher out wide. And Fickou at 13 is in the form of his life. He’s a big, strong man with good feet and powerful tackle, but he’s also a game-breaker. He’s as good as any centre I’ve worked with over the years.”

Among the forwards, McFarland said the locks (Yoann Maestri and Paul Gabrillagues) would prove a handful for the Boks, while No 8 Louis Picamoles would be the main ball carrier and someone the Boks would have to try to “take out of the game”.

While a big Test was in the offing, the former Bok assistant coach said Rassie Erasmus’s team would be much better off this week, having got a game behind them.

“They scrummed well (against England) last week, dominated most areas, while the defence was also solid. It was low-risk stuff.

“With more experience coming in this week, in the form of Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux, I suspect they’ll be better off. Francois Louw could also take up a position on the bench.”

McFarland said it would be interesting to see what Erasmus did with his back row.

“If Franco Mostert comes in at lock, it would mean Pieter-Steph du Toit moving to flank and either Duane Vermeulen or Warren Whiteley missing out; it’s a big call.”

After going down to England last weekend, McFarland felt it was a must-win game for Erasmus and his team this weekend.

“The Boks got unlucky last week, but in Test rugby you don’t always get the decisions you want. You’ve got to move on,” he said.

“The Boks need to win this week. For all the good this year, Erasmus’s team is still only at a 45 percent win rate, and he knows they need to win again, and more regularly.”

Erasmus will name his team this afternoon.