Raphael Ibanez believes France will be all the stronger come next year's World Cup on home soil after winning the RBS 6 Nations Championship despite never hitting top gear.
France destroyed Australia and South Africa in the autumn with an impressive brand of attacking rugby that was missing for most of the RBS 6 Nations.
In the final shake-up, it required a late flash of brilliance from the mercurial fly-half Frederic Michalak to secure France a victory over Wales that clinched the title.
But the French are developing a squad of experienced bodies, not dissimilar to England's successful approach at the last World Cup, because they bring the required mental fortitude into the squad.
Ibanez, the Wasps hooker, is one of them at 33 and he explained: "If you want to win something you should have to produce more than we have done - but in the end we have finished first. It is good for the team and especially the team spirit.
"We had highs and lows during the Six Nations. Sometimes we struggled to find a rhythm and tempo in our play.
"Against Wales on Saturday that was certainly the case. We didn't start well, struggling for most of the game and I can understand Wales felt disappointed.
"Maybe a few years ago we wouldn't have won that game so it is great that we have the team spirit, that we fight our corner and battle to stay in the game.
"Even playing like that we won the Six Nations, so it is good for us."
France, the pre-tournament favourites after their eye-catching November victories, opened the campaign with a shock defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.
That was followed by a less than convincing performance against Ireland, when they stormed into a 43-3 lead before eventually holding on to win 43-31.
It took France an hour to subdue Italy and they still did not hit top gear against England despite posting a record-equalling 31-6 victory.
In Cardiff they were hit by a Welsh side which had finally rediscovered its zest after a turbulent season marked by injuries and the sudden departure of Mike Ruddock.
A superb try from Hal Luscombe and eight points from the boot of fly-half Stephen Jones earned Wales a deserved 13-6 half-time lead.
France came out stronger after the interval and although Dimitri Szarzewski burrowed over in the corner Wales retained their lead until the 72nd minute.
That was when Michalak, targeted as a soft touch by most teams during the tournament, chipped the ball over the Welsh defence for Florian Fritz to touch down.
"That win was an important boost. We started the Championship on a bad note but we still won the tournament, so mentally it has done us good," said Michalak.
"It is rare to win this tournament. It is very, very difficult with Italy, Scotland and Ireland playing well."
It was not a classic championship triumph for France but team manager Jo Maso believes his men are on the right track for World Cup glory on home soil.
"We have won 13 of the last 15 matches over three years in the Six Nations (since the last World Cup). We are undefeated in France in seven matches since November.
''We have also got the record number of points since 2000 in the Six Nations. This team is going to go a long way," said Maso.
The 2017 RBS 6 Nations was watched by record numbers of fans
29 March 2017, 12:25pm
After an enthralling RBS 6 Nations Championship of twists, turns, and no small amount of drama on the last day, figures show the RBS 6 Nations is going from strength to strength, year on year, with no sign of slowing down.