Aurelien Rougerie apparently dislocated his shoulder against the fierce Tongans. That has been more or less overlooked in the welter of criticism that the French shipped over their surprise loss.
Rougerie hasn’t looked at this best during the World Cup. He’s one of the senior players in the group [along with Nallet, Servat and captain Thierry Dusautoir] and one gets the feeling that the psychological, temperamental and functional problems of a divided and unhappy squad have hampered his personal form.
With Patrice Estebanez suspended for three weeks due to his tip-tackle on Tongan One to Watch Joe Tuineau [the Mole has been the kiss of death to about 90% of the players he told his readers to look out for!], cover in the French centres for the QF showdown with England is looking sparse. The obvious choice is to pair David Marty with Maxime Mermoz, who are regular partners at Perpignan – and in all likelihood, Marc Lievremont will back his Catalans. After all, he was a Stade Aime Giral trooper for nine years himself.
Marty’s temperament is a bit suspect, from the Mole’s point of view. He went bonkers and had an extremely poor match for Perpignan in the HEC semi-final against Northampton. Putting him up against Manu Tuilagi will bring out the warrior in him, but he might go all Richard Dourthe and lose the plot altogether.
The Mole [predictably] would send Rougerie home, call up Toulouse legend Yannick Jauzion and play him inside Mermoz. Jauzion never should have been left at home in the first place and is still a magnificent player, as his ongoing run of good form in the Top 14 verifies. He’ll most likely be up against HRH Tins-Upon-Turnpike or Shontayne Hape, neither of whom will provide him with a whole heap of trouble.
The other option of course is to play veteran Damien Traille in his favoured position at inside centre, and preferably outside Francois Trinh-Duc. I’d have Jauzion ahead of Traille, but that’s just one man’s opinion. Anyway, who can tell what’s going to happen? Nobody even knows if Lievremont is still really in charge.