France in big gamble against NZ
French coach Philippe Saint-Andre took a big gamble when he named the inexperienced flyhalf Remi Tales to partner Morgan Parra at halfback.
French coach Philippe Saint-Andre took a big gamble when he named the inexperienced flyhalf Remi Tales in an untested halfback pairing with Morgan Parra to face world champions New Zealand on Saturday.
Parra and Talès will form a unique hinge at the centre of the France team.
The pairing will be the ninth different combination tried out by Saint-Andre since the 2012 Six Nations tournament, as he bids to achieve his first win at the helm against the world champions.
Clermont's Parra was rested during France's June tour of New Zealand, but the 24-year-old, who has 51 caps, returns as a points scorer.
Talès was preferred over Toulouse's Jean-Marc Doussain, who drops to the bench after playing in the 9-24 loss to the the world champions in New Plymouth last June.
"It was Morgan's experience, with a lot of selections and his kicking ability which made the difference," explained Saint-Andre.
"Jean-Marc works extensively with the goal, he scored in New Zealand, but he is Toulouse's second or third scorer," said Saint-Andre, whose side lost 0-3 on their June tour of New Zealand.
Talès, who has two caps, made his international debut in mid-year after winning the French title with Castres. The 29-year-old played a few minutes in France's crushing 0-30 defeat in Christchurch.
Otherwise there were few surprises with Saint-André opting for continuity with Biarritz flank Wenceslas Lauret and Castres prop Yannick Forestier both returning after missing the June tour.
The 46-year-old Saint-Andre's record since he took over the job at the beginning of 2012 is a modest seven wins, two draws and nine defeats.
The All Blacks - who only beat the French 8-7 in the 2011 World Cup Final - go into the game with a record in their last 30 Tests of 28 victories, one defeat and one draw.
France, who have lost their last seven games against New Zealand, will need to play boldly, according to Saint-Andre.
"We will have to be intelligent and focused defensively," he said.
"It is important that the players believe in themselves, that they play with passion and intelligence, but most of all they must release the handbrake.
"There is obviously some fear when you face New Zealand. We should build on that fear, it must not annihilate us. We will need to run and be creative."
After tackling the All Blacks in Stade de France, France next face Tonga in Le Havre on November 16 and South Africa in Stade de France on November 23.
France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Pape, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20 Antonie Claassen, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Gael Fickou.
Date: Saturday, November 9
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 21.00 (20.00 GMT; 09.00, Sunday, November 10 NZ time)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)