England v France, Six Nations, February 23
France ring the changes for England showdown
February 21, 2013
Morgan Parra returns to the France No.9 shirt for the clash against England at Twickenham © Getty Images
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made eight changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's Six Nations clash against England at Twickenham.
Fly-half Frederic Michalak and scrum-half Maxime Machenaud are among the casualties from the 16-6 defeat against Wales at the Stade de France 12 days ago with Francois Trinh-Duc and Morgan Parra preferred at half-back.
Vincent Clerc returns on the right wing, with Wesley Fofana moving to inside centre and Maxime Mermoz dropping out of the squad. Thomas Domingo takes Yannick Forestier's place at loose-head with Benjamin Kayser starting at hooker in the place of Dimitri Szarzewski. Christophe Samson, who has only one cap, replaces Jocelino Suta with flanker Yannick Nyanga stepping in for the injured Fulgence Ouedraogo.
Saint-Andre's team head to England after losing their opening two Five or Six Nations games for the first time since 1982. "After two defeats in the tournament, we wanted competition and freshness in the squad," Saint-Andre said. "We have to have the freshness and enthusiasm. We will prepare a lot of fight in Twickenham."
He also played down the demotion of Michalak and Machenaud, adding: "We are making logical preparations for the next World Cup. And we cannot go to a World Cup with a single half-back pairing. We really wanted to see Francois Trinh-Duc at the start and it was not possible. In addition, they know each other well, he and Morgan Parra."
Saint-Andre added: "Frederic has played a lot. He played the last six matches. It is normal that he lacks freshness. But the week of rest served him well and we will need everyone. We also wanted to take off some of the pressure."
He also sees Samson as a key weapon in what is sure to be a pivotal lineout battle. "We wanted to strengthen our lineout, and we know all about the quality of Christophe's movement," Saint-Andre said. "The English are a very big team. We saw, particularly against Ireland, that they stole a lot of ball. So we decided to go with a little more size, with Samson in the second row."
Saint-Andre is aware his side will enter the game as underdogs but remains confident they have the beating of not just England, but any side in the world. "The English will start favourites," he said. "We will have to show all our qualities of being French on Saturday - that means being brave, daring, unpredictable and to take the fight to them.
"When we are able to do that, we are able to pose problems for any team in the world. To be honest, it's always a good thing when we French have our backs to the wall. That forces us to regroup and to better prepare individually for what will be a bruising contest."
France: Yoann Huget; Vincent Clerc, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Benjamin Fall; Francois Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra; Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Nicolas Mas, Christophe Samson, Yoann Maestri, Yannick Nyanga, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Louis Picamoles.
Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Vincent Debaty, Luc Ducalcon, Jocelino Suta, Antonie Claassen, Maxime Machenaud, Frederic Michalak, Florian Fritz.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"People on the outside think unfounded thoughts on Toulon." Tom Hamilton talks to RCT lock Nick Kennedy ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup final against Clermont
Will Genia should lead the Wallabies against the Lions, Joe Tomane to win the final wing spot and Israel Folau at fullback, writes Greg Growden
"Has there ever been such a large disconnect between France's club teams and the international side?" Ian Moriarty weighs up the state of French rugby
"By carrying a Great Britain label to the Antipodes, and getting beaten by the Kiwis, they established a tradition which has lasted to this day." Huw Richards rewinds to 1888