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Rugby | Six Nations

Francois Trinh-Duc and Frederic Michalak © Reuters Images

Trinh-Duc back as France ring the changes



Francois Trinh-Duc will make his first start in eight months after coach Philippe Saint-Andre made seven changes and one positional switch to the team who lost to Wales, urging his troops to "be French" against England in Saturday's Six Nations clash.

Flyhalf Trinh-Duc, who last started in a 23-20 defeat in Argentina last June, replaces Frederic Michalak, while scrumhalf Morgan Parra comes in for Maxime Machenaud in the team announced by Saint-Andre on Thursday.

Vincent Clerc, who missed the opening defeats to Italy and Wales through injury, is back on the wing while Wesley Fofana stays in the team but moves to centre alongside Mathieu Bastareaud.

Prop Thomas Domingo takes Yannick Forestier's place with hook Benjamin Kayser starting in place of Dimitri Szarzewski.

"We wanted to bring freshness," Saint-Andre told a news conference.

Christophe Samson, who has one cap, replaces Jocelino Suta with flanker Yannick Nyanga taking the injured Fulgence Ouedraogo's spot.

France started their campaign with a 23-18 defeat by Italy in Rome before losing 16-6 at the Stade de France against defending champions Wales.

"Let's be French: courageous, audacious, unpredictable," said Saint-Andre.

France, who want to avoid losing their first three championship matches for the first time since 1982, will start as underdogs against a team who won their opening games, 38-18 against Scotland and 12-6 in Ireland.

"It's always good when we're scared. We'll have to stick together and get ready for a great fight," Saint-Andre explained.

"When you have lost your first two games you must make changes. I did a lot of rotations but changed the players within a squad we've had for a year.

"We need to play our best game, try to be very well organised, be disciplined. It's not just by kicking and chasing that you can beat England. For French rugby, it's better to be outsiders than favourites."

France's attacking line will probably be better organised as Fofana moves back to his preferred centre position and Clerc, who missed the first two matches because of a thigh injury, returns on the wing.

Les Bleus, however, will base their hopes of a first success at Twickenham in the Six Nations since 2005, on a solid forwards foundation.

"In order for Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana or Vincent Clerc to have good opportunities, we will first need to win the duels in front," said Saint-Andre.

"If we suffer on the first impact, it's going to be tricky. We need to play without the handbrake and be bold."

For that to happen, Saint-Andre believes Parra may be the right man as he is a "great leader for the forwards" and "a world-class kicker".

Asked whether changing the half backs midway through the championship was a good idea, Saint-Andre replied: "They're used to playing together and they've also been playing with their clubs so they're in the tempo.

"We're not burning them (Michalak and Machenaud). The overall idea is to also prepare for the World Cup. You do not go to the World Cup with one, but two pairs of half backs," he said, hinting that Michalak could go on some 20 or 30 minutes before the end of the game.

France: 15-Yoann Huget, 14-Vincent Clerc, 13-Mathieu Bastareaud, 12-Wesley Fofana, 11-Benjamin Fall, 10-Francois Trinh-Duc, 9-Morgan Parra, 8-Louis Picamoles, 7-Thierry Dusautoir, 6-Yannick Nyanga, 5-Yoann Maestri, 4-Christophe Samson, 3-Nicolas Mas, 2-Benjamin Kayser, 1-Thomas Domingo

Replacements: 16-Dimitri Szarzewki, 17-Vincent Debaty, 18-Luc Ducalcon, 19-Jocelino Suta, 20-Antonie Claassen, 21-Maxime Machenaud, 22-Frederic Michalak, 23-Florian Fritz



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