France aim to put down RWC marker
August 11, 2011
Vincent Clerc starts for France despite question marks over his fitness © Getty Images
Ireland will be out to make amends with a new look line-up following their 10-6 defeat to Scotland last weekend but will face a tough challenge from a French side who have just two warm-up matches prior to the 2011 World Cup.
French coach Marc Lievremont has handed a debut to Biarritz's Raphael Lakafia and he will be joined by club team-mate Imanol Harinordoquy and captain Thierry Dusautoir in the back-row. Julien Pierre is joined by Romain Millo-Chluski in the second-row engine room. The front-row has an unfamiliar look to it with the usual trio of Thomas Domingo, William Servat and Nicolas Mas replaced by Sylvain Marconnet, Dimitri Szarzewski and Luc Ducalcon.
In the backs Dimitri Yachvili will start at scrum-half alongside fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc. Toulon's Alexis Palisson starts on the wing and will be partnered by Toulouse's Vincent Clerc who has shrugged off doubts about his fitness to be named in the starting line-up. In the centres - Perpignan's Maxime Mermoz starts his second game since August 2010 following problems with injuries and is joined by David Marty. Biarritz's versatile back Damien Traille comes into the side at fullback - having previously lined up in the fly-half and centre berth for the national side.
Ireland meanwhile will have to cope without inspirational centre Brian O'Driscoll in the backline with Keith Earls taking the outside centre berth alongside Paddy Wallace. Earls is one of nine changes from the side which lost last weekend with Ireland boss Declan Kidney bringing in the experienced Ronan O'Gara and Eoin Reddan at half-back. The back three of Rob Kearney, Alastair Trimble and Luke Fitzgerald remains the same.
In the pack Ireland have a new-look front row with Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross all starting. Leo Cullen remains captain for the second game running but he will be plying his trade alongside Munster's Donncha O'Callaghan in the second-row rather than Donncha Ryan - who switches to blindside. Leinster's Sean O'Brien will start at openside with Denis Leamy keeping his place at No.8 after impressing against Scotland.
France: D Traille, V Clerc, D Marty, M Mermoz, A Palisson, F Trinh-Duc, D Yachvili; S Marconnet, D Szarzewski, L Ducalcon, J Pierre, R Millo-Chluski, T Dusautoir (capt), R Lakafia, I Harinordoquy
Replacements: G Guirado, JB Poux, L Nallet, J Bonnaire, M Parra, D Skrela, M Medard
Ireland: R Kearney, A Trimble, K Earls, P Wallace, L Fitzgerald, R O'Gara, E Reddan; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D O'Callaghan, L Cullen, D Ryan, S O'Brien, D Leamy
Replacements: J Flannery, T Buckley, P O'Connell, J Heaslip, C Murray, F McFadden, F Jones
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Dave Pearson (England) and Stuart Terheege (England)
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