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Fofana, Trinh-Duc in France team to face Italy

Updated: January 31, 2012, 06:43


PARIS(AP) Center Wesley Fofana will make his debut for France alongside Francois Trinh-Duc back at flyhalf for Saturday's Six Nations opener against Italy.

Fofana will play with veteran Aurelien Rougerie in midfield, and Trinh-Duc is partnered by scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili, with versatile halfback Morgan Parra on the bench in the first team named by new coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Tuesday.

Parra, a scrumhalf by trade, started last year's World Cup final against New Zealand as a makeshift No. 10.

But Saint-Andre preferred the more orthodox Trinh-Duc, who did well going on for the injured Parra in the final which France lost 8-7 last October.

Ten of the players who started the World Cup final are in Saturday's team.

Imanol Harinordoquy loses out to the burly Louis Picamoles at No. 8. Picamoles has been in fine form for Toulouse, while Harinordoquy has struggled with a niggling knee injury since returning from the World Cup and joins Parra and center Maxime Mermoz - another World Cup finalist - in the reserves.

Saint-Andre surprisingly selected Vincent Debaty at prop ahead of veteran Jean-Baptiste Poux, but the majority of the pack is the same as the one which rocked the All Blacks at Eden Park in a final that France came very close to winning.

Julien Malzieu returns on the wing two years after his last test away to Argentina. He takes the place of another finalist, Alexis Palisson, who did not make Saint-Andre's squad.

France lost 22-21 to Italy in last year's Six Nations.

"We have an enormous amount of respect for Italy, and we won't be taking them lightly,'' Saint-Andre said.

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France: Maxime Medard, Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Wesley Fofana, Julien Malzieu, Francois Trinh-Duc, Dimitri Yachvili; Louis Picamoles, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Lionel Nallet, Pascal Pape, Nicolas Mas, William Servat, Vincent Debaty. Reserves: Dimitri Szarzewski, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Yoan Maestri, Imanol Harinordoquy, Morgan Parra, Lionel Beauxis, Maxime Mermoz.

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