France out to prove strength in depth
November 20, 2009
Flanker Thierry Dusautoir was a late inclusion for France © Getty Images
Marc Lievremont's France have an ideal opportunity to prove their strength in depth this weekend with the visit of Samoa to the Stade de France.
Last weekend's victory over Tri-Nations champions South Africa in Toulouse marked the French out as a resurgent power in the world game and their coach has taken the opportunity to have a look at some fringe players ahead of their eagerly-awaited meeting with the All Blacks in Marseille.
Samoa will provide a stern examination for his squad and will be in confident mood after a battling display in a 17-13 defeat to a strong Wales side at the Millennium Stadium last weekend.
Lievremont has handed debuts to two of the country's most exciting young players in Bayonne wing Benjamin Fall and Clermont Auvergne flanker Alexandre Lapandry, who has excelled as captain of France's Under-21s. Thierry Dusautoir was a late call-up to the starting XV following an injury to Toulouse powerhouse Louis Picamoles and Julien Bonnaire has shifted to No.8 to accommodate his skipper on the openside.
Wales broke the Samoan line almost at will last weekend only to spurn their opportunities and Lievremont has selected a backs division that will pose plenty of questions for the tourists. Veteran centre Yannick Jauzion is recalled in tandem with Perpignan's David Marty outside the halfback combination of Francois Trinh-Duc and Morgan Parra. Fall is joined in the back-three by Toulouse duo Maxime Medard and Vincent Clerc.
Samoa will go all out to make the most of a rare opportunity to play France but have been struck by several damaging injuries. Captain George Stowers and wing Andy Tuilagi have both been ruled out by injury, meaning call-ups for Bath flanker Jonny Fa'amatuainu and Leicester powerhouse Alesana Tuilagi, who replaces his younger brother on the wing.
Toulouse prop Cencus Johnston caused plenty of problems for Wales alongside hooker Mahonri Schwalger and loose-head Justin Va'a and they will again be out to secure a strong platform against the powerful French trio of Thomas Domingo, Dimitri Szarzewski and veteran Sylvain Marconnet. Samoa's Clermont Auvergne centre Gavin Williams will not get the opportunity to test himself against some familiar faces however as he has returned to France following the birth of his child.
France: Maxime Medard; Benjamin Fall, David Marty, Yannick Jauzion, Vincent Clerc; Francois Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra; Thomas Domingo, Dimitri Szarzewski, Sylvain Marconnet, Sebastien Chabal, Pascal Pape, Alexandre Lapandry, Thierry Dusautoir, Julien Bonnaire
Replacements: Guilhem Guirado, Nicolas Mas, Romain Millo-Chluski, Julien Puricelli, Julien Dupuy, Damien Traille, Yann David, Fabien Barcella
Samoa: Lolo Lui; David Lemi, Henry Fa'afili, Seilala Mapusua, Alesana Tuilagi; Fa'atonu Fili, Junior Polu; Justin Va'a, Mahonri Schwalger, Cencus Johnston, Filipo Levi, Kane Thompson, Jonathan Fa'amatuainu, Ofisa Treviranus, Henry Tuilagi
Replacements: Andrew Williams, Jeremiah Fatialofa, Iosefa Tekori, Misioka Timoteo, Uale Mai, Fuimaolo-Sapolu, Titi Esau
Referee: Dave Pearson (Eng)
Assistant referees: Rob Debney (Eng), Stuart Terheege (Eng)
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.