France makes 11 changes to lineup to face Canada
Updated: September 13, 2011, 00:42
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TAKAPUNA, New Zealand(AP) France coach Marc Lievremont made 11 changes to the lineup that beat Japan for Sunday's Rugby World Cup match against Canada, saying the decision to refresh the squad was "not a punishment'' but made with New Zealand in mind.
Lievremont replaced scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili with Morgan Parra and rested captain Thierry Dusautoir, bringing in flanker Fulgene Ouedraogo in his place.
With two bruising matches to come against the All Blacks and Tonga, Lievremont wants to avoid any risk of injury to key players.
"It's down to the fact that, as you all know, there will be some matches that will probably be tough, obviously it's not a punishment,'' Lievremont said Tuesday. "In principal, we've got more difficult matches ahead. It's important to get everyone involved.''
Vincent Clerc, William Servat, Francois Trinh-Duc and Aurelien Rougerie are the only players remaining from the 47-21 win against Japan last Saturday, when France allowed Japan to get back within four points after leading 20-3 at one stage.
Clerc has a chance to add to his six World Cup tries, five from 2007, and close in on Christophe Dominici's French record of eight.
Hooker Servat is the only survivor from the forward pack which started in the match against Japan, with Lievremont picking back-up Guilhem Guirado over Dimitri Szarzewski on the bench.
"(Canada) will bite us. I trust Jamie Cudmore and his teammates won't release their prey,'' said Rougerie, who will captain the side in Dusautoir's absence.
Rougerie switches back to left wing, where he played most of his international career before Lievremont converted him into a center late last year. He is replaced in midfield by Maxime Mermoz.
"Aurelien is also among those players coming back from injuries who need playing time,'' Lievremont said. "Let's not forget that Aurelien has played 10 years as a winger. I wanted him to be on the field, I wanted him to be captain.
"Aurelien has been involved for quite a while now. I had my doubts about his captaincy in the past. I found him to be less mature than he is now, but he convinced me. He's a key player who reassures players, who speaks up and is positive.''
Mermoz is partnered in midfield by Perpignan teammate David Marty, while Damien Traille - who has played center and flyhalf in the past for France - comes in for Cedric Heymans at fullback.
"Damien is the eternal utility player but now he needs to settle,'' Lievremont said.
Lievremont had been particularly hard on his players after the Japan match, criticizing Trinh-Duc and flanker Imanol Harinordoquy in particular. He now feels the lesson has been learned.
"I had some harsh words after the match because more than the victory itself we wanted more consistency and precision,'' Lievremont said. "But they are not happy themselves with their individual performances. I want (Trinh-Duc) to be more rigorous, more efficient, especially in the position he plays in.''
The tough-tackling Marty, who came on in the second half against Japan, is keen to avoid another dressing down from Lievremont.
"When you don't play well it's normal that you get shaken up by the coach. It's his role,'' Marty said. "It's up to us to react so that next Monday morning we don't get shaken up so much.''
Lievremont still maintains that France is playing the right way, despite criticisms that his team is trying too hard to play entertaining rugby and overlooking the basics.
"I've never said 'Life is beautiful and let's just chuck the ball out to the wing,''' Lievremont said.
Flyhalf David Skrela continues his recovery after injuring his right shoulder against Japan, while Estebanez has shaken off a sore back to take his place on the bench.
"David still can't train, (although) he's recovered the mobility in his arm,'' Lievremont said. "We will wait to see how his situation develops. For the moment, there is no urgency.''
France: Damien Traille, Vincent Clerc, David Marty, Maxime Mermoz, Aurelien Rougerie (captain), Francois Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra; Louis Picamoles, Julien Bonnaire, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Romain Millo-Chluski, Pascal Pape, Luc Ducalon, William Servat, Jean-Baptiste Poux. Reserves: Guilhem Guirado, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Imanol Harinordoquy, Dimitri Yachvili, Fabrice Estebanez, Maxime Medard.