France makes eight changes ahead of Six Nations clash with England
Published 21/02/2013 | 10:52
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made eight changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations match against England.
Saint-Andre has opted for a new half-back pairing, with Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc replacing Maxime Machenaud and Frederic Michalak following Les Bleus' 16-6 defeat against Wales at the Stade de France 12 days ago.
Vincent Clerc returns on the right wing, with Wesley Fofana switching to his preferred role of centre for the Twickenham encounter.
Saint-Andre's team head to England after losing their opening two Five or Six Nations games for the first time since 1982.
Wales' success in Paris followed a 23-18 loss in Italy six days previously, meaning the wooden spoon has now become a distinct possibility for the pre-tournament favourites.
"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."
The 45-year-old played down the decision to go with a new half-back duo, insisting there was nothing personal in dropping Michalak and Machenaud.
"We are making logical preparations for the next World Cup," Saint-Andre said. "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."
Castres lock Christophe Samson will earn only his second cap this weekend, with Saint-Andre keen for the 6ft 6in 28-year-old to challenge England in the lineout, where they were so impressive in beating Ireland 12-6 at the Aviva Stadium last time out.
"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."
France team to face England in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations match at Twickenham (1700 kick-off)
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.