PARIS (Reuters) - Performances at the Six Nations championship will go a long way in determining spots for this year's rugby World Cup, France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said on Monday.
Les Bleus start their championship on Saturday against Scotland with the Sept. 18-Oct. 10 World Cup in the back of their mind.
"It's an important competition in itself, and we will also face two teams whom we'll play in the pool phase at the World Cup (Italy and Ireland)," Saint-Andre told sports daily L'Equipe.
"What I'm going to tell the 31 players who are here is that it's best to be in that squad than outside.
"They've got a beef steak in front of them. If they eat it, if the Six Nations is a success, it will hard for the others to come back. That's one of the meanings of this championship."
France will play both their games against Ireland and Italy away in the championship. They are drawn in Pool D at the World Cup, with Romania and Canada also in the group.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly