Marc Lievremont has crushed the rising at source, dropping noted dissident Damien Traille for the clash with Tonga.
This is Lievremont exerting his authority over the squad. He may be a busted flush as a coach, but he still picks the team, and if you piss him off you’re on skid row. Morgan Parra remains at outhalf ahead of Francois Trinh-Duc, and a couple of Saturday’s biggest disappointments, Louis Picamoles and Dmitri Szarzewski, are dropped. Indeed, Picamoles has been dropped from the match-day squad entirely, punishment for a bone idle defensive performance against New Zealand where he was involved – and at fault – for the concession of the three first half tries.
Lievremont has opted for a like-for-like replacement, bringing in the ball-carrying explosiveness of enormous nipper Rafael Lakafia instead of the more rounded talents of Basque legend Imanol Harinordoquy.
Likewise Damien Traille’s murmurings of discontent find him totally excluded from the matchday squad; the Mole firmly believes that this is Marc Lievremont cutting off his nose to spite his face. If you’re not picking him in the No12 jersey Traille makes an ideal sub – hugely experienced [85 caps], versatile [outhalf, centre, fullback] and physically enormous for a three-quarter.
Still, it’s a good team on paper. The French have so many quality players in their outfit that it’s hard for them not to pick a good ‘un. Medard moves back to fullback from wing, with Alexis Palisson coming in to fill the wide spot. The battle-hardened and world class William Servat comes into the starting line-up at hooker, which should add a huge amount of power and nous to the French scrummaging effort.
France: Maxime Medard; Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson; Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili; Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Luc Ducalcon; Pascal Pape, Lionel Nallet; Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Julien Bonnaire, Raphael Lakafia.
Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Imanol Harinordoquy, Francois Trinh-Duc, Fabrice Estebanez, Cedric Heymans.