Lievremont gives Bastareaud a shot at redemption

CONTROVERSIAL centre Mathieu Bastareaud has been given his chance in the starting line-up for France’s RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland on Sunday.

The Stade Francais player caused a diplomatic stir when he claimed he had been attacked following a night out in Wellington on France’s tour to New Zealand last summer when, in fact, he sustained a suspected broken eye socket and needed four stitches in his cheek after a drunken fall in his hotel room.

Bastareaud, who returned to France following the incident, admitted his story was a lie concocted to hide the fact he had injured himself.

France Prime Minister Francois Fillon sent a written apology to New Zealand counterpart John Key over the incident, which was subject to a French Rugby Federation investigation which handed out a suspended three-month ban.

However, the 21-year-old has now been given the nod by coach Marc Lievremont for the trip to Murrayfield, at the expense of David Marty.

Lievremont is hopeful Bastareaud has learned from his mistakes.

“Mathieu has to confirm all the good things we think about him,” said the coach.

“He is right to think that everyone is waiting for him. He should play to his strengths without asking himself too many questions.”

Bastareaud is excited about facing a Scotland team he considers as unpredictable as the French.

“They are so motivated and they never give you anything,” Bastareaud said. “We’ll have to be wary because they can come up with unbelievable performances when you least expect it.”

Francois Trinh-Duc has been handed the fly-role role, although there remains doubts over his participation following a shoulder injury.

Benjamin Boyet will come into the starting XV should the Montpellier player fail a fitness test.

Morgan Parra will start at scrum-half role ahead of the returning Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, with Julien Dupuy ineligible as he serves a 23-week ban for eye-gouging.

Other absentees are Romain Millo-Chluski and Sebastien Chabal, who pulled out of the squad earlier this week through injury.

France travel to Edinburgh, before meeting Ireland in Paris on February 13, Wales in Cardiff on February 26 and home games with Italy on March 14 and England on March 20.

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