JONNY WILKINSON has enjoyed an undisputed reign as the fly-half king of European rugby - but World Cup semi-final opponents France have unearthed a serious challenger to his throne.
At 21, Frederic Michalak is three years younger than Wilkinson, yet he possesses match-winning potential in abundance at the hub of a supremely confident French team.
And if France destroy England's World Cup dream at Telstra Stadium on Sunday, then the emerging Toulouse star could prove to be chief executioner.
It will be the biggest game of Michalak's life, but he looks a player totally at ease in the spotlight.
While Wilkinson continues to give an impression of a player with the weight of the world, never mind an expectant nation, on his shoulders, Michalak appears so laid-back that you almost expect him to fall over at any time.
Every rugby journalist in Australia, it seemed, crowded him at France's Bondi Beach World Cup base yesterday, but he handled it like a seasoned professional.
Dressed in a sleeveless training top, and displaying a silver ear stud, Michalak resembled something more akin to Bondi surfer than potential World Cup winner.
"I am more interested in how the team performs and my role in that," he said. "The most important thing is respecting and following the instructions of the coach, and respecting team tactics.
"We've taken our performances very seriously - there are no easy matches in the World Cup."
Respect too, for England. "They've just had some very tough match-es," he said. "Samoa is never easy, and they also had to play South Africa.
"England have progressed very well, and have played at the top level for the past year or so.
"They are never easy to play against.
For me, they're the number-one team in the world.
"The advantage England have is that they are the best team in the world. Everyone knows that, and that is still the case. But this is a semi-final between France and England in the Rugby World Cup, and there's nothing pre-defined or written, so it's all up for grabs."
And as for opposite number Wilkinson, Michalak added: "He has masses of experience, and has played many matches at the top level.
"He has great attack, defence and kicking. He is a player who has all the attributes, and something for all us youngsters to look up to."
Michalak's mood reflects a squad comfortable and at ease with each other, something not lost on seasoned campaigner, the 30-year-old French hooker Raphael Ibanez.
"I think that we live well together, and we keep our problems inside the group," said Ibanez, who will join Saracens after the World Cup. We have a big determination to do well at this World Cup, and we know that we have to play our game and to play as we know how to."