/ Rugby

France make five changes for Tonga test

Updated: Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 18:31 | Comments

Wesley Fofana (L) and Sofiane Guitoune (R) training in Marcoussis
Wesley Fofana (L) and Sofiane Guitoune (R) training in Marcoussis

Philippe Saint Andre has made five changes to the France starting line-up for the test against Tonga in Le Havre on Saturday, the coach opting to overhaul a side that lost 26-19 to New Zealand last week.

Sofiane Guitoune will make his debut on the wing in place of Yoann Huget, while centre Gael Fickou will start an international for the first time after Florian Fritz was dropped from the squad named by Saint Andre on Thursday.

Fulgence Ouedraogo comes in at openside flanker instead of Wenceslas Lauret and Sebastien Vahaamahina will start in the second row in place of Pascal Pape.

Hooker Dimitri Szarzewski starts in place of Benjamin Kayser, a week after France fell to an eighth successive against the All Blacks.

Behind the scrum, Saint Andre opted to keep scrumhalf Morgan Parra and flyhalf Remi Tales - the pair being the 10th he has tried out since taking over as from Marc Lievremont following the 2011 World Cup, where France lost 19-14 to Tonga in the group phase.

"It is the only time in my career that something like this happened to me, the Tonga players openly making fun of us," Szarzewski told reporters.

Tonga lost 19-18 against Romania last weekend.

"In the rucks, they are very aggressive, I know some of them because they play in the French Top 14 and it is true that they can go hard," said Tales.

"We know how physical they can be," added fullback Brice Dulin.

"It can become difficult so we have to challenge them like we challenged the All Blacks last weekend."

France have lost seven of their nine games in 2013 and Saint Andre said he could not wait to take away "the bitter taste of defeat" from his mouth.

France will conclude their November test series on November 23 against South Africa.

France XV to face Tonga: 15 B Dulin, 14 S Guitoune, 13 G Fickou, 12 W Fofana, 11 M Medard, 10 R Tales, 9 M Parra, 8 D Chouly, 7 F Ouedraogo, 6 T Dusautoir (captain), 5 Y Maestri, 4 S Vahaamahina, 3 N Mas, 2 D Szarzewski, 1 Y Forestier

Replacements: 16 B Kayser, 17 V Debaty, 18 R Slimani, 19 P Pape, 20 B Le Roux, 21 J Pelissie, 22 F Michalak, 23 M Bastareaud.

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