Bastareaud on French bench

France coach makes two changes to his side ahead of Six Nations clash against Italy.

    Full-back Alexi Palission and winger Marc Andreu get in a bit of extra training [AFP]

    France coach Marc Lievremont has handed winger Marc Andreu a start for the first time as Les Blues prepare to meet Italy in their Six Nations clash at the Stade de France.

    France's star of their campaign so far, Mathieu Bastareaud, will start on the bench.  

    Following their 26-20 win over Wales nearly two weeks ago, France remain unbeaten in the tournament and are on course for their first rugby union Grand Slam since 2004.

    Castres winger Andreu replaces Julien Malzieux and David Marty comes in for centre Bastareaud.

    "There are only two changes in the back line, with David Marty ... and Marc Andreu, who has had an excellent season with Castres and played only three minutes in Cardiff,'' Lievremont said.

    Few changes

    Bastareaud, who had been a doubt with a calf injury, has been ruled fit to play and will start from the bench.

    "There are very few changes,'' Lievremont said.

    "We thought about rotating the forwards but we favoured a form of continuity.''

    Coming back from a knee injury, Biarritz scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili was on the bench. Lievremont called Yachvili into his squad last week after Frederic Michalak tore his cruciate knee ligaments with Toulouse.

    "Frederic had a successful operation this morning,'' Lievremont said.

    "We hope to see him back with Toulouse before the end of 2010.''

    Title hopes

    France will host England on March 20 in their last match in the championship and will hope to still be on course for their first title since 2007.

    Lievremont said he was taking nothing for granted against Italy, who registered a rare Six Nations win by beating Scotland in their previous outing.

    "We do fear Italy," he said.

    "It will be a tricky match because we are the clear favourites.

    "Nobody's thinking about England, nobody's thinking about the grand slam," he added.

    "If we win (against Italy), we will be almost certain to win the championship. Then we can start thinking about the grand slam". 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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