England urged to cash in on disarray in French squad

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Tom Palmer has urged England to prey on France’s mental fragility in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

The England lock has spent the last two years playing for Stade Francais and understands the French psyche better than anyone in the red rose squad.

France, who lost to Tonga last weekend, appear to be in a state of disarray, with coach Marc Lievremont openly criticising his players and vice versa.

Comparisons have been drawn between Lievremont’s squad and the French football team, who went on strike at the 2010 World Cup after Nicolas Anelka was sent home.

The French players are understood to have held a summit meeting on Tuesday in a bid bring a sense of unity to the squad ahead of the showdown with England.

Palmer believes that could make them dangerous - but he also knows how damaging a fast start from England could be to their belief.

“From my knowledge of French guys and what their psyches’ like, it tends to be that if things don’t go their way or things aren’t going too well they do make quite a lot out of it,” said Palmer.

“It happens to the French. Look at their football team in the World Cup as well.”