Rugby Union

Wales lock Luke Charteris is braced for a fierce Six Nations challenge from France.

Wales lock Luke Charteris issues warning about 'confident' France

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Paris-based lock Luke Charteris has braced Wales to expect opponents "very happy" with life under new boss Guy Noves when they tackle RBS 6 Nations title rivals France later this month.

The Cardiff clash on February 26 could prove a pivotal contest in this season's tournament, with both teams unbeaten after two games.

Racing 92 and Wales forward Charteris will be back on club duty this week ahead of next Saturday's Top 14 appointment with Grenoble, and his inside knowledge suggests a France squad thriving under Noves' direction.

Five of Charteris' Racing colleagues were involved in Les Bleus' matchday 23 that accounted for Ireland this weekend, and while France have not beaten Wales since the 2011 World Cup, they are unlikely to be short on confidence.

"We have to get better with France next up," said Charteris, following Wales' 27-23 victory over Scotland that gave them a ninth successive win in the fixture.

"They have gone two (wins) from two and will be a different challenge in a couple of weeks' time.

"They (Racing players) are all coming back full of confidence and very happy with the new regime and how things are going.

"Their mindset is a lot more positive than it had been under the previous coaches. It will make them a better team and it certainly won't be easy against them.

"They have got so many good players out there. It's a shame when they don't play like that (the French way) because they have a natural attacking mindset.

"They have a very strong pack as well. They can flip between the two styles of play, and hopefully we can as well. France have some very big men all over the place."

Tries during the final 15 minutes by centre Jamie Roberts and wing George North meant Wales finally subdued a Scottish side whose performance belied a dismal current Six Nations record of nine defeats in a row.

But while Scotland once again find themselves scrambling around near the Six Nations basement, Wales remain on course for a possible fourth title since head coach Warren Gatland took charge in 2008.

"Before we started the championship, we were thinking of the title," Charteris added. "That was our aim, the objective we came in with.

"We need to step up on what we did against Scotland and win every game we've got left."

The battle up-front against France is likely to prove decisive, but Wales' set-piece work has impressed during the last two matches, with young props Rob Evans and Samson Lee thriving in starting roles and Charteris maintaining strong lineout work alongside regular second-row partner Alun Wyn Jones.

The scrum and lineout against Scotland boasted 100 per cent efficiency, and Wales forwards specialist Robin McBryde said: "The measure of a good front-row is being able to problem solve on the pitch, and they were able to do it.

"For a young front-row to back up their performance against Ireland (last Sunday), I thought was outstanding.

"We know that any French team prides itself on their scrum - that doesn't change.

"We know that we have got to step up or keep things up, but I genuinely feel as a pack of forwards we have raised the bar, not only in the scrum, but defensively at lineout time as well. We didn't give Scotland any sort of change or platform to work from, which was hugely pleasing."

Gatland, meanwhile, knows that Wales remain in control of their own destiny regarding Six Nations title ambitions.

" For us it's about the next two weeks," he said. "If we can beat France, we are potentially playing England (on March 12) for the championship.

"That is how it boils down, and that's taking nothing away from Italy in the last game. If we are able to win the next two games, I think the motivation will be there to play Italy at home.

"But it's about one step at a time."

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