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Laporte puts his faith in Penaud
Clairefontaine
February 16, 2000

France coach called Alain Penaud the obvious choice when he called him into the squad on Tuesday to replace the injured Christope Lamaison.

"With Lamaison injured, it sounded logical to call up Alain (Penaud) to take over," said coach Bernard Laporte said. "He is a player with great experience and it will be useful to have him in such a decisive match."

The 30-year-old Penaud, who was on the bench against Wales will start his first game since 1997.

"I'm just happy to be back after such a long time," said Penaud who will earn his 31st cap on Saturday. His last game was the second test against Australia in Brisbane in 1997.

The injury to Lamaison, who left the pitch limping during a French championship match against Dax on Sunday, comes at the worst possible time for France who are preparing for what is being hyped as the Championship decider.

"We are going to face the most consistent side of the championship," said Laporte. "The English have made great improvements over the last two seasons and they are now really close to the southern hemisphere sides."

Man-of-the-match Lamaison scored 28 of the 43 points for France in their historic victory over New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final at Twickenham.

In Cardiff, Lamaison was again hero-of-the-day when France tamed Wales 36-3 in their Six Nations tournament opener. The Brive player piled up 21 points.

"We will have to cope with this new situation," said Laporte. "Penaud will be flyhalf and Richard Dourthe will take the penalty kicks."

Dax's Dourthe has not been a regular penalty kicker since France's Grand Slam campaign in 1998 although he took kicks during the early stages of the World Cup. He could be replaced as kicker by Thomas Castaignede.

Former flyhalf Castaignede made an impressive debut at fullback scoring a try and setting up another for flanker Olivier Magne against the Welsh.

Except for Lamaison, Laporte should name on Wednesday an unchanged side to face England who trampled Ireland 50-18 at Twickenham.

Coach Clive Woodward decided on Tuesday to keep his team exactly the same.

"This match is going to be a real test to see where France are exactly in the hierarchy," said Laporte. "The English thought our performance during the World Cup was not deserved. It is going to be the opportunity to settle things."

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