Bastareaud gets nod for Wales clash
February 7, 2013
Mathieu Bastareaud is set to make his first start for France since the 2010 Six Nations © Getty Images
Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud has been promoted to France's starting line-up for their Six Nations clash with Wales in Paris on Saturday.
Bastareaud will make his first start for his country since the 2010 Six Nations in the place of Toulouse's Florian Fritz in one of two changes to the side that were shocked by Italy in their opener in Rome on Sunday. France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has also been forced to call on Bastareaud's club-mate Jocelino Suta after captain Pascal Pape picked up a back injury in the Stadio Olimpico clash.
Saint-Andre, who confirmed earlier this week that Thierry Dusautoir would resume the captaincy, insisted that Fritz's demotion was a tactical choice and that he must not be seen as a scapegoat for what was only his side's second championship defeat to Italy.
"It is not a punishment. We win as a squad of 23 and lose as 23. It is more strategic," said Saint-Andre. "We know Florian's qualities - he started the last seven games. The group knows it is not his fault. The fault is collective. When you lose 16 balls in duels that is not down to Florian Fritz."
Saint-Andre has also urged his side to show their character by shrugging off their defeat to Italy that left the title favourites' Grand Slam hopes in tatters. "At the highest level it is not the dynamic of victories which show what you're made of but in how you deal with defeat. We shall see how capable we are of reacting individually and collectively to find solutions," he insisted, demanding a reaction and "great solidarity" in swiftly turning their campaign around.
"To be ambitious is to show it on the pitch. It is unacceptable to have regrets at the end of a top level match and we will do all we can in order to have no regrets come Saturday afternoon. We believe in this group."
France: Y Huget (Toulouse); W Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), M Mermoz (Toulon), M Bastareaud (Toulon), B Fall (Racing Metro); F Michalak (Toulon), M Machenaud (Racing Metro); Y Forestier (Castres), D Szarzewski (Racing Metro), N Mas (Perpignan), J Suta (Toulon), Y Maestri (Toulouse), F Ouedraogo (Montpellier), T Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), L Picamoles (Toulouse).
Replacements: B Kayser (Clermont Auvergne), V Debaty (Clermont Auvergne), L Ducalon (Castres), R Taofifenua (Perpignan), D Chouly (Clermont Auvergne), M Parra (Clermont Auvergne), F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), F Fritz (Toulouse).
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