Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Clerc back as France ring changes

France wing Vincent Clerc is one of five changes

France have recalled wing Vincent Clerc to their 23-man squad for the RBS 6 Nations clash with England at Twickenham on February 23.

Clerc missed the defeats by Italy and Wales with a thigh problem but returns as one of five changes to the squad selected for the opening two matches of the tournament.

Maxime Mermoz has been axed, indicating Clerc will be restored to the right wing in place of Wesley Fofana, who will be moved to inside centre after being played out of position against the Italians and Welsh.

Uncapped South African-born flanker Antonie Claassen has been called up alongside lock Christophe Samson, flanker Yannick Nyanga and prop Thomas Domingo

Back-row forward Damien Chouly, prop Yannick Forestier and second row Romain Taofifenua have been dropped, while flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo is injured.

France were pre-tournament favourites to win the Six Nations but have produced a dire start, losing in Rome and Paris on successive weekends to consign a fine autumn to distant memory.

"After these defeats we've made five changes because it is necessary to freshen up the squad mentally and physically," coach Philippe Saint-Andre said.

"We want to get the team spirit back that we had in November. We won't give in, we will go to London with the will to do better. We want to make things up to our fans and to win this match. I'm sure we can do it."

Forwards: A Claassen (Castres), V Debaty (Clermont), T Domingo (Clermont), L Ducalcon (Racing Metro), T Dusautoir (Toulouse), B Kayser (Clermont), Y Maestri (Toulouse), N Mas (Perpignan), Y Nyanga (Toulouse), L Picamoles (Toulouse), C Samson (Castres), J Suta (Toulon), D Szarzewski (Racing-Métro).

Backs: M Bastareaud (Toulon), V Clerc (Toulouse), B Fall (Racing Metro), W Fofana (Clermont), F Fritz (Toulouse), Y Huget (Toulouse), M Machenaud (Racing Metro), F Michalak (Toulon), M Parra (Clermont), F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier).

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