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Rugby | Six Nations

Mathieu Bastareaud © Gallo Images

Bastareaud returns to France team



Centre Mathieu Bastareaud will start a France game for the first time in almost three years after he was named in the team to take on Wales in the Six Nations championship on Saturday.

Bastareaud, who has been chosen at the expense of Florian Fritz in one of two changes to the side which lost 23-18 in Italy in last Sunday's opener, started his last game with Les Bleus in a 2010 Six Nations match against England.

Manager Philippe Saint-Andre handed Jocelino Suta a start at lock to make up for the absence of Pascal Pape, who pulled out with a back injury.

Bastareaud - who has 10 caps for France - has been rewarded for his strong performances with his club Toulon, who lead the French Top 14.

The 24-year-old had been overlooked in recent years because of poor form after being omitted following off-the-pitch troubles in 2009.

Saint-Andre otherwise kept faith with the team who were outplayed in the shock in Rome.

"You say you don't change a winning team. Well, we say we don't change a losing team. The players need to bounce back," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"We keep this group so we can find collective solutions, not individual solutions."

Saint-Andre explained that Fritz's relegation to the bench was not a punishment.

"It's a strategic choice. We wanted a 10-12-13 liaison between players from the same club," he said.

"Florian will play (at some point), that's certain, and he will bring his energy."

FRANCE TEAM:

15-Yoann Huget, 14-Wesley Fofana, 13-Mathieu Bastareaud, 12-Maxime Mermoz, 11-Benjamin Fall, 10-Frederic Michalak, 9-Maxime Machenaud, 8-Louis Picamoles, 7-Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 6-Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5-Yoann Maestri, 4-Jocelino Suta, 3-Nicolas Mas, 2-Dimitri Szarzewski, 1-Yannick Forestier

Replacements: 16-Benjamin Kayser, 17-Vincent Debaty, 18-Luc Ducalcon, 19-Romain Taofifenua, 20-Damien Chouly, 21-Morgan Parra, 22-Francois Trinh-Duc, 23-Florian Fritz

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