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France ring the changes

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."

France team to face England: Y Huget (Toulouse); V Clerc (Toulouse), M Bastareaud (Toulon), W Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), B Fall (Racing Metro); F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), M Parra (Clermont Auvergne); T Domingo (Clermont Auvergne), B Kayser (Clermont Auvergne), N Mas (Perpignan), C Samson (Castres), Y Maestri (Toulouse), Y Nyanga (Toulouse), T Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), L Picamoles (Toulouse).

Replacements: D Szarzewski (Racing Metro), V Debaty (Clermont Auvergne), L Ducalon (Castres), J Suta (Toulon), A Claassen (Castres), M Machenaud (Racing Metro), F Michalak (Toulon), F Fritz (Toulouse).


From Belfast Telegraph