Lievremont explains Les Bleus shake-up

FRANCE coach Marc Lievremont insists the changes made to his side for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match with England are based on squad rotation rather than any special measures designed to outfox Martin Johnson’s men.

Lievremont, who stoked the fires ahead of the crunch encounter by claiming he did not like the English, has rung the changes to his starting side by handing recalls to Sebastien Chabal, Vincent Clerc, Dimitri Yachvili and Yannick Jauzion, while Maxime Medard switches from wing to full-back to replace Clement Poitrenaud.

Damien Traille, who operated at full-back in the opening 34-21 win over Scotland before switching to centre against Ireland, moves to the bench, while Morgan Parra and Julien Bonnaire also make way.

Asked whether the changes were designed to inject some experience into the ranks after the laboured 25-22 win over the Irish last time out, Lievremont replied: “Not really. That wasn’t the specific aim. We wanted to shake up the group. We’re putting out the same three-quarters that finished in Ireland so there’s a form of continuity.”

Lievremont added that it was important for the players who had been replacements in the opening games to get some action from the start this weekend.

“Lads like Vincent Clerc and Yannick Jauzion are champing at the bit. It’s normal to involve them by giving them a boost,” he said.

“Against anyone we would have involved replacements who were on the bench the first two games. We wanted to have a more balanced bench.

“Against Scotland and Ireland, Jerome Thion and Sebastien Chabal, who are powerful players, came on during the game. We’re going to involve one from the start.

“Above all we wanted to reward the replacements while sending out a competitive team.’’

Lievremont does have one concern to contend with ahead of the game, with Medard a doubt after missing training yesterday with a thigh problem.

Meanwhile James Hook will start in his third different position of this year’s RBS 6 Nations Championship when Wales face Italy on Saturday.

Hook, full-back against England and then fly-half when Wales beat Scotland 10 days ago, moves to centre as replacement for the injured Jonathan Davies.

Hook wins his 50th cap, lining up alongside Jamie Roberts in midfield, while Stephen Jones returns at fly-half, making a 98th Test match appearance.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has otherwise retained the team on duty at Murrayfield, although fit-again Cardiff Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny gains a place among the substitutes.

Davies has not recovered from a hamstring injury suffered during the Scotland game, a match when Hook ran proceedings for Wales as they built a sizeable early lead before running out 24-6 victors.

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