Laporte urges injury-hit French to be positive
French coach Bernard Laporte on Monday named a 22-man squad for his team's Six Nations match against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday and urged his men to remain positive in the face of a devastating injury toll.
The French will be without seven possible starters: Christophe Lamaison,
Alain Penaud, Abdelatif Benazzi, Stephane Glas, Fabien Galthie, Lionel Mallier and Richard Dourthe after suffering from a rash of injuries.
Laporte, already facing the task of rebuilding morale after a 15-9 home
loss to England, was forced to name three rookies in his squad in Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, Sebastien Chabal and Jean Daude, an inexperienced
backline duo in Gerald Merceron and Cedric Desbrosse and to recall Arnaud
Costes and Aubin Hueber, who has not played at international level for five
Elissalde has been called up in place of Dourthe, who has injured a
cheekbone, French manager Jo Maso said.
The 22-year-old La Rochelle player is usually a scrum-half but has played
at fly-half for his club since the start of the season. He is also his club's goal-kicker - meaning he is likely to take over Dourthe's kicking duties.
Elissalde is the son of Jean-Pierre Elissalde, the La Rochelle coach who
was selected five times by France in 1980 and 1981.
Desbrosse will replace centre Glas, who suffered an ankle injury at the
weekend.Laporte said he was not surprised at the heavy injury toll.
"After the World Cup, the southern hemsiphere players had three months to
recuperate, while the others haven't stopped," he said.
"I'm confident, though, that we'll do a good job with the guys that we have. We can't hide behind excuses if we lose."
Laporte said he hoped the French would return to the style of play that saw
them beat Wales 36-3 in their tournament opener on February 5.
French squad:Forwards (12): Christian Califano (Toulouse), Franck Tournaire (Toulouse), Pieter De Villiers (Stade Francais), Marc Dal Maso (Colomiers), Raphael Ibanez (Perpignan), Jean Daude (Bourgoin), Fabien Pelous (Toulouse, capt), Olivier Brouzet (Begles-Bordeaux), Sebastien Chabal (Bourgoin), Olivier Magne (Montferrand), Arnaud Costes (Montferrand), Thomas Lievremont (Perpignan)
Backs (10): Christophe Laussucq (Stade Francais), Aubin Hueber (Toulon),
Gerald Merceron (Montferrand), Jean-Baptiste Elissalde (La Rochelle), David
Venditti (Brive), Thomas Lombard (Stade Francais), Emile Ntamack (Toulouse),
Christophe Dominici (Stade Francais), Cedric Desbrosse (Toulouse), Thomas