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Szarzewski handed France armband

Hooker Dimitri Szarzewski will captain France for their 100th international against England in the first of two World Cup warm-up matches between the old rivals.

Szarzewski leads a team that contains a mixture of established names such as number eight Louis Picamoles and scrum-half Morgan Parra and fringe contenders for the England 2015 tournament.

Old warhorses Vincent Debaty and Nicolas Mas start at prop, while Yoann Maestri is present in the second row.

Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc provide experience at half-back, but it is a rookie threequarter line that has been selected by coach Philippe Saint-Andre for Saturday's match.

Saint-Andre insists it is business as usual for the landmark meeting in all competitions between the RBS 6 Nations foes, despite France visiting London at the unusual time of mid August.

"After six weeks of training and being in camp, we need the test of coming to Twickenham to play England. When you have a game against England it's always a huge challenge," Saint-Andre said.

"We're not used to coming to England in August but the traffic was bad like normal and the weather was bad like normal. So on the pitch it will be like normal!

"Some of the players will be a little bit rusty from both teams, but it will be physical like it always is.

"I am happy with where we are because the guys have worked very hard and the spirit in the camp is good."

When asked why France had broken with established protocol by naming their team on the eve of the match, Saint-Andre said: "It was planned like this.

"My players knew the team a few days ago. And to be honest I knew a squad of 25 players last Sunday."

France team to face England in World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham on Saturday, August 15 (8pm):

S Spedding (Clermont); S Guitoune (Bordeaux), R Lamerat (Castres), A Dumoulin (Racing 92), B Dulin (Racing 92); F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), M Parra (Clermont); V Debaty (Clermont), D Szarzewski (Racing 92, capt), N Mas (Montpellier), A Flanquart (Stade Francais), Y Maestri (Toulouse), Y Nyanga (Racing 92), F Ouedraogo (Montpellier), L Picamoles (Toulouse).

Replacements: G Guirado (Toulon), X Chiocci (Toulon), Uini Atonio (Atlantique Stade Rochelais), S Vahaamahina (Clermont), L Goujon (Bordeaux), R Kockott (Castres), R Tales (Racing 92), G Fickou (Toulouse).


From Belfast Telegraph