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Dusautoir needs rest - Saint-Andre

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has played down the surprise absence of captain Thierry Dusautoir ahead of Saturday's first Test against Australia in Brisbane.

Veteran prop Nicolas Mas will lead the side against the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium, as Dusautoir continues to nurse a bicep injury suffered on club duty with Toulouse in January which ruled him out of the RBS 6 Nations campaign.

"Thierry is not yet 100 per cent due to his bicep injury," Saint-Andre said at a press conference after naming his team on Wednesday morning. "After a good week of training, we decided to give it one more week to ensure a better return.

"It is the same for Maxime Medard, who told us this morning (Wednesday) that he still felt some pain in his left ankle.

"As we want to play without complications against the Australians, it was decided to bring in the most in-form players of the moment.

"Nicolas Mas will wear the captain's armband - firstly, because he is one of the oldest in the team, then because he was also captain for many years with his club Perpignan, and finally because he is one of Thierry Dusautoir's first lieutenants."

Toulon's Frederic Michalak was handed the fly-half role, despite having not played for four weeks and having just arrived Down Under, but Saint-Andre retained confidence in the 31-year-old.

He added: "Fred has not had much playing time in recent weeks, but we feel he is happy to be here.

"He was given a video of the Australian defence when he was on a plane to join us, and I know he really wants to play.

"This is someone who has played the Super 15 and is used to jetlag. He is the only Top 14 finalist starting the first Test , but he is also the only one who was not invested in his team in the final."

Winger Felix Le Bourhis will make his international debut, at the age of 26, after an impressive club season with Bordeaux.

"Felix has integrated in the squad very well," Saint-Andre said. "He may be a little shy in life, but I especially asked him not to be on the pitch.

"Given the season he has had, and the consistency he has shown, he deserves to be given the opportunity to play."

Bernard Le Roux replaces Dusautoir in the back row, while Hugo Bonneval comes in at full-back and Damien Chouly will start at number eight.

Morgan Parra will provide cover for both half-back positions from the bench, and Brice Dulin replaces Max Medard among the substitutes.

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has dropped veteran scrum-half Will Genia and given the number nine jersey to Nic White, while Bernard Foley will deputise for the injured Quade Cooper at fly-half.

And l ock Sam Carter will make his Test debut after catching the eye for the Brumbies in the Super 15.

"This is a team redesigned - a bit like us - with a new generation of players, especially at the back," Saint-Andre said.

"They had a great autumn tour. Although they lost the first match in England, they easily beat Ireland and Wales.

"They will not have the same half-back pairing, but we still expect a very difficult opponent with the most in-form players from the Super 15 . We will try to defend well and be very aggressive."


From Belfast Telegraph