Six Nations: Michalak overlooked for France squad
Uncapped fly-half Jules Plisson has dislodged experienced playmakers Francois Trinh-Duc and Frederic Michalak from France’s RBS Six Nations squad.
The 22-year-old outside-half is one of three developing Stade Francais stars to muscle into Phillipe Saint-Andre’s squad for next month’s European tournament.
Flanker Antoine Burban and full-back Hugo Bonneval join team-mate Plisson in Saint Andre’s line-up, while Castres full-back Geoffrey Palis is included for the first time.
Stade’s resurgence is underscored by their climb to second in the Top 14 rankings, with Plisson holding his own alongside decorated Springbok fly-half and team-mate Morne Steyn.
With Camille Lopez missing through injury, Saint-Andre has chosen to promote Plisson ahead of both Toulon’s Michalak and Montpellier’s Trinh-Duc.
“There were talks over Jules Plisson and Francois again this morning,” Saint-Andre told the French Rugby Federation’s website yesterday. “Francois is making a massive effort and he’s almost there, but Jules Plisson is currently putting in some high-quality performances.
“We’ve picked the most in-form and confident players of the moment.
“Frederic was the starter in last year’s Six Nations and he played exceptionally in the November 2012 Tests.
“But he got injured and is currently lacking game time. He needs more time.”
Burban slots in for the injured Racing Metro loose-forward Wenceslas Lauret, with Toulouse talisman Louis Picamoles also back among the reckoning in a settled forward pack.
Racing scrum-half Maxime Machenaud is fit in time to win selection, while Toulon’s Mathieu Bastareaud replaces Florian Fritz, unavailable after suffering injuries in a motorbike accident.
Saint-Andre will take his 30-strong squad into a training camp on 19 January in Canet-en-Rousillon.
France kick off their Six Nations charge by hosting England at Stade de France on 1 February.
Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues fly-half Rhys Patchell’s RBS Six Nations hopes are over after knee surgery ruled him out of Wales contention for several months.
Blues rugby director Phil Davies has confirmed the 20-year-old will have an operation to correct the problem suffered in the weekend’s 21-13 victory over the Dragons. Patchell will also have shoulder surgery while he is already sidelined with the knee trouble.
And, after winning two caps on Wales’ tour to Japan last summer, he will now be unable to compete for Six Nations selection. “It is a disappointment to us to lose Patch for this period of time when he is playing so well, with many crucial games coming up in both Europe and the Pro12,” said Davies.
“However, it will give others within our squad the opportunity to step up as we look to enjoy a strong start to 2014. We wish Rhys all the best with his rehabilitation.”