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Jonathan Danty: Poor lifestyle almost cost me France career

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Jonathan Danty has admitted his poor lifestyle almost cost him his France career.

The 23-year-old centre capped a whirlwind 12 months with his Test debut in Saturday's 23-21 RBS Six Nations victory over Italy after helping Stade Francais to the Top 14 title last term.

Danty sailed through France's Under-18s and Under-20s ranks only for that rapid progress to stall slightly, before new Les Bleus boss Guy Noves selected him for this year's Six Nations.

The highly-rated midfielder has now accepted that earning his Test bow proved harder than he perhaps initially expected.

"It is true that I was slowed by physical problems," said Danty. "I found myself quite young and alone in an apartment. So I had to turn a corner.

"That warned me though, just how high the standard is at international level. I've prepared myself with high-intensity games for my club.

"I'm struggling to think of myself as a revelation -- I am in my fourth pro season. I know what I'm capable of, but I've got to keep my feet on the ground."

Few calls underline new coach Noves' determination to restore France's traditional running rugby than Danty's selection ahead of battering-ram centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

The Stade speedster battled to inject renewed flair into France's backline in the slender victory over Italy, along with Fiji-born wing and fellow debutant Virimi Vakatawa.

The duo will hope to earn another chance to impress when France host Ireland in Saturday's second-round clash at Stade de France.

France have not beaten Ireland since 2011, while Joe Schmidt's visitors will be seeking a second successive victory in Paris for the first time since 1927.

The French have spent their last two meetings with Ireland trying to intimidate and unsettle linchpin fly-half Johnny Sexton, with bullish runner Bastareaud central to that cause.

Now that Toulon's juggernaut midfielder has been discarded -- and former Toulouse boss Noves is battling to instil more artistry -- France will seek to exploit the wider channels against the Irish.

Danty for one is excited about the prospect of a France flushed once again with all the classic traits, and hopes to be able to conjure some tries this weekend.

"The top aim for me is to break the line then send a pass of 15 or 20 metres to my winger, and then watch him touch down over the line," said Danty. "To be part of the full France team is quite something. It's a real honour."