/ Six Nations 2015

France make three changes for the RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland

Updated: Thursday, 07 Mar 2013 17:51 | Comments

Outhalf Frederic Michalak (left) and centre Florian Fritz (right) come into the France XV
Outhalf Frederic Michalak (left) and centre Florian Fritz (right) come into the France XV

By Tadhg Peavoy

France have named their side to face Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations on Saturday, with head coach Philippe Saint-André making three changes to his starting XV.

The trio of changes to the France XV all come in the backline with centre Florian Fritz, winger Maxime Medard and outhalf Frederic Michalak coming into the team in place of Mathieu Bastareaud, Benjamin Fall and Francois Trinh-Duc.

The France pack remains the same as the eight that took on England at Twickenham on 23 February.

France XV to play Ireland: Yoann Huget, Vincent Clerc, Florian Fritz, Wesley Fofana, Maxime Medard, Frederic Michalak, Morgan Parra, Louis Picamoles, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Yannick Nyanga, Yoann Maestri, Christophe Samson, Nicolas Mas, Benjamin Kayser, Thomas Domingo.

Replacements: Guilhem Guirado, Vincent Debaty, Luc Ducalcon, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Antonie Claassen, Maxime Machenaud, Francois Trinh-Duc, Mathieu Bastareaud.

Bastareaud and Trinh-Duc drop to the bench, while Fall misses out on the matchday squad altogether.

There are also two further changes among the replacements as hooker Guilhem Guirado and lock Sebastien Vahaamahina come into the squad in place of Dimitri Szarzewski and Jocelino Suta respectively.

France have lost their first three games of the 2013 championship against Italy, Wales and England.

However, Les Bleus' record against Ireland in Dublin in recent times is excellent: they have played seven times in the Irish capital since 2000, winning four of those encounters.

The pairing of Parra and Michalak at halfback is the third combination France will try this championship.

Explaining the latest of those half-back combinations, Saint-Andre said of Michalak and Parra: "They have already played together against Samoa in November.

"Fred will be the number one kicker, Morgan will take the kicks from further away because he has five metres more in his legs" - Philippe Saint-André

"For the Ireland match, we wanted to have two goal-kickers. Fred will be the number one kicker, Morgan will take the kicks from further away because he has five metres more in his legs.

"But we are still in a construction phase and it isn't extraordinary for us to look to test the half-back axis."

Maxime Machenaud and Trinh-Duc will be raring to be involved off the bench, with Saint-Andre pointing out they remain firmly in his plans.

"For nine matches, we have been using the same four players," he said.

"In November we used the Machenaud-Michalak combination a lot. Maxime (Machenaud) has played a lot in recent months, he is young and he is discovering the highest level. Morgan has played excellent matches for France and for Clermont.

"We need to find an 80-minute performance. At the moment we aren't doing that.

"The role of the France team is to win in style. But in our current situation, we'd sign for even a 3-0 win straightaway" - Philippe Saint-André

"The role of the France team is to win in style. But in our current situation, we'd sign for even a 3-0 win straightaway."

Saint-Andre said that putting versatile back Medard on the wing was a sensible step, given the options at his disposal.

Medard suffered a serious knee ligament injury during last year's Six Nations clash with Scotland that ruled him out of the autumn Tests, but he is fully fit again.

Saint-Andre said, according to L'Équipe: "Maxime will give us his left foot. He will alternate between the wing and full-back according to our needs.

"But I would rather he starts on the wing because it's in that position that he has played most often since his return from injury.

"And Yoann Huget has been very satisfactory at full-back, notably in defence on the high balls."

Live RBS 6 Nations coverage on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only) from 2pm on Saturday 9 March (Ireland v France 5pm) and 2.30pm on Sunday 10 March.

Live radio coverage of Ireland v France on Saturday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide) from 2pm.

@:TPeavoy

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