Harinordoquy set for recall
FRANCE coach Philippe Saint-Andre is poised to make several changes to the side that accounted for Italy in their opening Six Nations match when he names his team today for Saturday's Paris showdown with Ireland, WRITES HUGH FARRELLY.
The World Cup finalists were comfortable 30-12 winners against the Italians at the Stade de France last Saturday but Saint-Andre was unhappy with aspects of the performance in a game where Italy enjoyed a lot of possession but were unable to convert it into tries.
It could see the former Gloucester, Sale and Toulon coach tweak his starting line-up, with speculation that Lionel Beauxis will come in for Francois Trinh-Duc at out-half and that Imanol Harinordoquy is set to replace Julien Bonnaire in the back-row.
After an inconsistent scrummaging display last weekend, Saint-Andre could also bring in David Attoub to replace Nicolas Mas at tight-head prop.
While France crossed for four tries against Italy through wingers Vincent Clerc and Julien Malzieu, and centres Wesley Fofana and Aurelien Rougerie, Trinh-Duc was criticised for not getting more out of his backline and for kicking too much ball.
This could see Beauxis brought in at 10 with a running brief, while Harinordoquy, one of the stars of France's World Cup campaign, could be brought in to provide greater dynamism.
Bonnaire is a key line-out weapon but Harinordoquy is also an accomplished performer in this area and whoever Saint-Andre goes for, the French will have a height advantage in the back-row.
Saint-Andre, who has stuck with the same match-squad from last weekend, said: "I think the starting XV will change. We had a quality bench against Italy. The replacements brought speed, freshness and energy."
Meanwhile, despite Ireland losing their opening Six Nations encounter to Wales, France full-back Maxime Medard is wary about the threat posed by Declan Kidney's side next weekend.
"I saw the Ireland-Wales match and it was a superb game," said Medard. "We have to approach things very seriously this week because they are in great shape."
FRANCE (possible) v Ireland -- M Medard; V Clerc, A Rougerie, W Fofana, J Malzieu; L Beauxis, D Yachvili; V Debaty, W Servat, D Attoub; P Pape, L Nallet; T Dusatoir, I Harinordoquy, L Picamoles.