21 Sep 2011

French not fielding "B" team - L'Equipe writer

10:35 am on 21 September 2011

A top French rugby writer is disputing claims the French are fielding a "B" team against the All Blacks in a bid to lose Saturday's crunch World Cup pool game and ensure an easier path to the final.

Ian Borthwick, who writes for French sports paper L'Equipe, says while coach Marc Lievremont has certainly left out usual first five Francois Trinh-Duc, replacing him with halfback Morgan Parra in the most surprising selection, it's otherwise the strongest side France could put out.

Borthwick, who's a New Zealander, says Lievremont hasn't left out his entire top front row as has been reported and in fact first choice tighthead prop Nicola Mas is injured, star hooker William Servat is coming back from injury and needs a rest, and the loosehead is their only option left.

Key number eight Imanol Harinorduquy is on the bench alongside Servat but the coach is giving Louis Picamoles another chance to surpass the veteran in the pecking order, after impressing against Canada.