Wenceslas Lauret makes France return for Wales Six Nations Test
Racing Matro flanker Wenceslas Lauret has returned to the French line-up for the Six Nations match against Wales in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff on Friday night.
Lauret was named Wednesday to take over from Bernard Le Roux in the back row as the only change to the side that defeated Italy 30-10 in Paris in the last round of games.
Le Roux was ruled out of the Wales game after being badly concussed in the match against the Italians.
Lauret last played for France in the November Tests against world champions New Zealand and South Africa, but sustained a groin muscle injury late last year that sidelined him for several weeks.
He returned to action for his team in the Top-14 championship last Saturday and impressed France coach Philippe Saint-Andre in the 18-8 win over Bayonne.
“He turned in a quality performance against Bayonne and he was a logical choice for selection as he brings us balance to the back row,” Saint-Andre said.
Elsewhere the French have gone for stability following their two opening wins over England (26-24) and Italy, both chalked up in Paris.
Those wins opened up the possibility of a first French Six Nations Grand Slam since 2010, just a year after they finished with the wooden spoon.
Saint-Andre notably gave another vote of confidence to the youthful half-back pairing of Jean-Marc Doussain (23) and Jules Plisson (22), despite having more experienced players at his disposal.
“We really want to persevere with this young pair of half-backs who are learning things every day and who have the willingness, determination and backbone that we need,” the coach said.
Saint-Andre also showed his faith in the rest of the backs division with contrasting centres Wesley Fofana and Mathieu Bastereaud in harness for the third match in a row and Hugo Bonneval winning his second cap on the wing.
On the replacements bench hooker Brice Mach is set to win his first cap for France having been called into the squad to replace the injured Benjamin Kayser.
Saint-Andre also used the occasion to slam those Top-14 clubs who ignored his pleas not to select their international players for last weekend’s games.
“The 15 starters for England were rested last weekend, 98 percent of the Irish were rested. As for the Welsh - out of 32 players, 12 had to play, but the other 20 were rested,” he said.
“For us, we made a little bit of progress I suppose, but we still had only six players rested out of 30.”
The France squad:
Brice Dulin; Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval; Jules Plisson, Jean-Marc Doussain; Louis Picamoles, Wenceslas Lauret, Yannick Nyanga; Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape (capt); Nicolas Mas, Dimitri Szarzewski, Thomas Domingo
Replacements: Brice Mach, Yannick Forestier, Vincent Debaty, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly, Maxime Machenaud, Remi Tales, Gael Fickou
Published: February 19, 2014 04:00 AM