Lievremont in the zone for Irish clash
Marc Lievremont has declared that France's World Cup campaign will start on Saturday night when they take on Ireland at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux, in the first of two back-to-back warm-up matches.
"We are excited," said the 42-year-old coach. "I felt the tension in the announcement of the team, even if it is only a warm-up match."
As expected, Lievremont included a debutant in his starting line-up, with Biarritz No 8 Raphael Lakafia getting the opportunity to shine against an Irish back-row expected to include both Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien.
The uncapped 22-year-old will feature alongside France captain Thierry Dusautoir and club skipper Imanol Harinordoquy in an equally formidable back-row.
Vincent Clerc has been named on the wing despite nursing a knee injury, with prop Fabien Barcella named 23rd man notwithstanding an elbow problem.
Maxime Mermoz will line out for France for only the second time since August 2010 following a variety of injury issues.
Lievremont's selection includes about half of his expected strongest line-up and the second-row combination, in particular, will be stronger next weekend.
France -- Traille; Clerc, Marty, Mermoz, Palisson; Trinh-Duc, Yachvili; Marconnet, Szarzewski, Ducalcon, Pierre, Millo-Chluski, Dusautoir (Capt), Harinordoquy, Lakafia. Reps: Guirado, Poux, Nallet, Bonnaire, Parra, Skrela, Medard.
23rd man: Barcella.
Hernandez rocked by knee injury heartache
Argentina utility back Juan Martin Hernandez will miss the World Cup after failing to recover in time from a right knee injury.
Hernandez suffered his injury in March, playing for French club side Racing Metro against Bourgoin.
He underwent surgery and then began an intensive rehabilitation process in the vain hope of recovering in time for the competition.
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World Cup chiefs predict big crowds
World Cup organisers are anticipating 25,000 fans will travel from Britain and Ireland for the tournament.
Tournament chiefs are expecting a total of 95,000 overseas World Cup visitors from 100 different countries, an increase of 10,000 on a previous estimate.
Over one million tickets have been sold, raising 10 times the revenue of the 2005 Lions tour for the New Zealand Rugby Union. RWC 2011 expect a late surge in sales to push them towards their revenue target of NZ$268.5m (£153m).
The tournament kicks off on September 9 when the All Blacks play Tonga at Eden Park.
England open their campaign against Georgia in Dunedin the following day, while Scotland tackle Romania in Invercargill.
Ireland and Wales will get their first taste of World Cup action 24 hours later, on September 11, when they face the United States and South Africa respectively.