France arrived in South Africa on Monday acknowledging that they have a "tough week ahead" in trying to beat the Springboks in their two-Test series against the Tri- Nations champions.
France coach Bernard Laporte admitted that his side, which is without experienced players such as flanker Serge Betsen, lock Fabien Pelous and winger Christophe Dominici, has a mountain to climb.
Laporte has also lost Thierry Dusautoir and Jerome Thion after they picked up injuries in the French Championship final between Biarritz and Stade Francais on Saturday - and has a host of players who will be feeling the effects of the final, which went into extra time.
"We've got a long hard week ahead of us," Laporte said on arrival.
"Some of our players are tired and we will have to deal with this. We have a lot of young players and we will have to quickly gel them together. Either way it's a long week of hard work.
"In the past we would have had midweek games to help us with that but with the nature of the international schedule, we don't have that luxury. Our training sessions need to fulfil that role nowadays."
Laporte, who has handed scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili the captaincy for the trip, added that the aim of the tour was much the same as in 2001, when his side found some young talent that has since been the anchor of the French team over the past few years.
"We have a lot of players who haven't had many caps before and there is a lot of inexperience in this side. We realise that the matches will be very hard and that we will have to be at our best," Laporte admitted.
"But we are using the same philosophy as we did in 2001 to try and develop our young talented players. It forms part of our plan for 2007 and it will be very interesting to see how they respond."
The French face South Africa in Durban on Saturday and again a week later in Port Elizabeth.
As head coach Stuart Lancaster polishes the axe he will soon wield over his World Cup training squad, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie to be given a stay of execution.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.