France change three for Samoa
Thu, 22 Nov 2012 10:51
Michalak set to star at flyhalf
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Thursday made three changes to his lineup for the Test match against Samoa at the Stade de France on Saturday.
Two of those come in the front row with Thomas Domingo taking over at loosehead prop from Yannick Forestier and Benjamin Kayser in at hooker for Dimitri Szarzewski.
Back in at scrum-alf for his 45th cap comes Morgan Parra, with Maxime Machenaud dropping down to the bench.
Toulon playmaker Frederic Michalak is retained at flyhalf after outstanding performances in the first two of France's year-end Test matches - a 33-6 win over Australia and a 39-22 victory over Argentina.
Saint-Andre said that he viewed the match against Samoa as the most important and potentially hazardous of the three games in the yer-end Test series.
"We were the outsiders against Australia, it was 50-50 against Argentina and now we are in the role of favourites," he said.
"We will see if we are capabale of assuming that mantle and once again winning. We are trying to instill a culture of quality and consistency at the topmost level. That is the challenge that awaits us on Saturday.
"We know that traditionally in French rugby we prefer being the outsiders rather than the favourites. Now it is time to step up to the plate.
"We are fourth in the IRB world rankings and Samoa are ninth, so we can hardly consider ourselves as the outsiders this time.
"Samoa, though, are a team who are making giant strides forward. They are tough in the contact area, very aggressive and they have improved in the areas of collective organisation, defence and at the breakdown.
"It is up to us to produce the goods and enable us to make it three wins in a row."
A win over Samoa would give France a clean sweep of their year-end internationals against Southern Hemisphere sides for the first time since 2005 and ensure that they remain in the top band of four seeds for next month's 2015 World Cup draw in England.
The South Pacific islanders are coming off an upset 26-18 win over Six Nations champions Wales in Cardiff.
France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Vincent Clerc, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Papé (captain), 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Vince Debaty, 19 Jocelino Suta, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Francois Trinh-Duc, 23 Yoann Huget.
Date: Saturday, November 24
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 18.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)
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