Hooker Szarzewski back in French squad

FRANCE coach Bernard Laporte has recalled hooker Dimitri Szarzewski to his 22-man squad to play England in the Six Nations tournament at the Stade de France on March 12.

“We have chosen to keep things as they are,” Laporte said following the 37-12 win over Italy in Paris last weekend. “We did bring back Dimitri Szarzewski, who was out injured with an Achilles tendon strain. He will replace Sebastien Bruno who has been struggling with a knee injury since November.”

Laporte and his co-selectors did also consider recalling veteran flanker Serge Betsen, fellow back-rower Remy Martin and fly-half Benjamin Boyet, but all were recovering from injuries and not yet fully fit.

Laporte said that with only Frederic Michalak in the squad as a Number 10, he would instead rely on centre Damien Traille and utility back Thomas Castaignede as backup.

But the coach hinted that there could be changes to the final line-up for the game which will be announced on March 8.

Meanwhile, Austin Healy urged England to axe Matt Dawson, hinting the World Cup winning scrum-half is too old for Test rugby.

Dawson has been locked in a battle with Harry Ellis for England’s number nine shirt, but his 23-year-old rival currently has the edge after starting all three 2006 RBS 6 Nations matches.

At 33, Dawson is entering the twilight of his career believes he should be dropped.

“Dawson shouldn’t be in the England squad because his form has not been good enough,” Healey said “He is a big-game player, but physically I don’t know how he’s standing up to it. It is time for young blood to come through into the squad.”

Meanwhile, Italy hooker Fabio Ongaro has urged his team-mates to forget about their second-half horror show against France when they take on Wales in Cardiff on March 11.

The Azzurri crashed to their 10th straight Six Nations defeat when they surrendered a 12-8 half-time lead to lose 37-12 to the French on Saturday.

With games against Wales and this year’s Scotland to come, the Italians are now favourites to claim the wooden spoon.

But Ongaro believes his side can come back a stronger force if they are willing to learn from the mistakes made at the Stade de France.

FRANCE Backs: JB Elissalde (Toulouse), D Yachvili (Biarritz), F Michalak (Toulouse), F Fritz (Toulouse), D Marty (Perpignan), D Traille (Biarritz), C Heymans (Toulouse), A Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), C Dominici (Toulouse), T Castaignede (Saracens).

Forwards: P De Villiers (Stade Francais), S Marconnet (Stade Francais), O Milloud (Bourgoin), R Ibanez (Wasps), D Szarzewski (Stade Francais), F Pelous (Toulouse, captain), J Thion (Biarritz), L Nallet (Castres), Y Nyanga (Toulouse), T Lievremont (Biarritz), J Bonnaire (Bourgoin), O Magne (London Irish).

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