Justin Tipuric expects Wales to face a France team “getting better with every game” when the countries clash in Cardiff on Saturday.
Victory for Wales – they have not lost at home against France since 2010 – is likely to secure second place behind champions Ireland in this season’s NatWest 6 Nations.
But while Les Bleus began the tournament with successive defeats against Ireland and Scotland, they recovered impressively to see off Italy in Marseille before last weekend’s eye-catching dismissal of England.
“When France gel and play well, they are a very difficult side to beat,” he said. “They are getting better with every game.
“France have a lot of big men in the pack and they have big centres as well.
“You’ve got to stop them from going forward, whether it is at the set-piece or stopping them from coming around the corner.
“There are some quality teams in this Six Nations, so to finish second would be a good thing for us.
“Our goal before coming into these last two games (against Italy and France) was to win both of them. If we can do it and end up in second place, that will obviously be a good thing for us.”
Wales head coach Warren Gatland is due to name his starting line-up on Thursday, with a number of areas set for debate, including his starting back-row combination.
Openside specialist Tipuric wore Wales’ number six shirt last Sunday, scoring a try in a 38-14 success against Italy after packing down alongside Test debutant James Davies and fit-again number eight Taulupe Faletau.
Scarlets forward Aaron Shingler and Cardiff Blues’ Josh Navidi – they started Wales’ opening three games of the tournament – are set to be back in the selection mix, and Tipuric knows that competition for places is fierce.
“There are so many good sevens out there,” he added. “Even if you took us two (himself and Davies) out of it, you would have another three or four that could step in to the jersey easily.
“I think it has always been hotly-contested, even when I first came in with Martyn (Williams) and Sam (Warburton) and myself. There is so much competition in Wales for that seven jersey.
“It keeps getting stronger and stronger, and that can only be good for the game in Wales. I think it’s a big strength of ours, and we are very lucky with the back-row.”
Skipper Alun Wyn Jones, full-back Leigh Halfpenny, prop Rob Evans and hooker Ken Owens are among those who look set for recalls, but the fly-half position promises to provide an interesting selection discussion.
Gatland has used three different starting 10s in the competition so far this term – Rhys Patchell, Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe – and his final decision for France’s visit will be a fascinating one.