CENTRE Mathieu Bastareaud will start a France game for the first time in almost three years after he was named in the team to take on Wales in the Six Nations championship tomorrow.
Bastareaud, who has been chosen at the expense of Florian Fritz in one of two changes to the side that lost 23-18 in Italy last Sunday, started his last game with Les Bleus in a 2010 Six Nations match against England. Manager Philippe Saint-Andre handed Jocelino Suta a start at lock to make up for the absence of Pascal Pape, who pulled out with a back injury.
It is a largely unchanged team with Saint-Andre vowing to stick by his under-fire players. Half-backs Frederic Michalak and Maxime Machenaud have shouldered the majority of blame for a disjointed performance against Italy, but have been retained in what Saint-Andre has admitted is a “second chance” for a number of his players.
“You say you don’t change a winning team. Well, we say we don’t change a losing team. The players need to bounce back,” Saint-Andre told reporters.
“We keep this group so we can find collective solutions, not individual solutions. After that defeat, we will see the true nature of this group. We will see what it is. I look forward to Saturday. I was angered by the [Italy] game. This will be a second chance for everyone.”
Triple Grand Slam winner Ryan Jones has urged Wales to “be bold” when he leads the reigning RBS Six Nations champions against France. Jones will captain his country for a 30th time – an ongoing record – after skipper Sam Warburton was sidelined from the Paris mission because of a shoulder problem.
Wales’ interim head coach, Rob Howley, confirmed that had Warburton been fit, he would have started and been captain. Trusted lieutenant Jones, though, now steps forward.
“As you get older, you have that experience to draw upon. You prepare as if you are playing, and, when called upon, it is down to you to do a job. Have boots, will travel,” Jones said. “There is nothing quite like playing France in Paris. It’s loud, it’s noisy. Something we have tried to instil in the guys this week is to look forward to it, be bold and let’s have a real good crack.”
France: Y Huget (Toulouse); W Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), M Mermoz (Toulon), M Bastareaud (Toulon), B Fall (Racing Metro); F Michalak (Toulon), M Machenaud (Racing Metro); Y Forestier (Castres), D Szarzewski (Racing Metro), N Mas (Perpignan), J Suta (Toulon), Y Maestri (Toulouse), F Ouedraogo (Montpellier), T Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), L Picamoles (Toulouse). Subs: B Kayser (Clermont Auvergne), V Debaty (Clermont Auvergne), L Ducalon (Castres), R Taofifenua (Perpignan), D Chouly (Clermont Auvergne), M Parra (Clermont Auvergne), F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), F Fritz (Toulouse).
Wales: L Halfpenny (Cardiff); A Cuthbert (Cardiff), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff), G North (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Toulon), R Hibbard (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), A Coombs (Dragons), I Evans (Ospreys), R Jones (Ospreys, capt), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons). Subs: K Owens (Scarlets), P James (Bath), C Mitchell (Exeter), L Reed (Cardiff), A Shingler (Scarlets), L Williams (Cardiff), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets).