France name Six Nations training party
January 5, 2012
Wesley Fofana has been causing havoc in opposition defences for Clermont © Getty Images
France boss Philippe Saint-Andre has included two new faces in his first squad ahead of the 2012 Six Nations.
Saint-Andre will take charge of France for the first time against Italy at the Stade de France on February 4 - after replacing former boss Marc Lievremont - and has named uncapped duo Toulouse lock Yoann Maestri and Clermont centre Wesley Fofana in the 30-man party. Elsewhere, there are recalls for Toulouse's Clermont Poitrenaud, Yannick Nyanga and Lionel Beauxis who missed out on selection for the 2011 World Cup. Saint-Andre has retained IRB World Player of the Year Thierry Dusautoir as skipper.
There are also recalls for two men who were in the international wilderness under Lievremont. Clermont winger Julien Malzieu returns after a year and a half away from the side - with his last Test against the Pumas in June, 2010 - while prop Vincent Debaty returns after five years out having played his last match for France back in June 2006 as a replacement against Romania.
Saint-Andre, however, has opted against naming resurgent Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud in the party while Toulouse centre Florian Fritz and Stade Francais scrum-half Julien Dupuy also miss out.
And following the 30-man selection, Saint-Andre refused to talk about those who missed out on selection. "There was a lot of debate over each position, but I don't wish to comment on the absentees," said Saint-Andre. "I hope they are disappointed at not being in the current squad. It's up to them to make the necessary efforts. It's not because they're not in this squad that they can't come back.
"Yannick Nyanga has been outstanding for Toulouse since the start of the season. We want to have a look at Fofana, he has physical attributes of the very highest level."
But along with Bastareaud and Fritz, one other high profile casualty of Saint-Andre's first squad is one of the standout players of the 2011 World Cup - veteran lock Lionel Nallet. The French coach has refused to close the door on the second-row's international career but admitted he has favoured the younger option in Maestri.
"He's 35, he's an exceptional player with a fantastic attitude," Saint-Andre said. "I spoke to him on the phone, he understands that for this training camp we need a (younger) player like Yoann Maestri."
France training squad:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin