Parra named at 10 for All Blacks test

FRANCE coach Marc Lièvremont has sprung a major surprise by handing Morgan Parra a rare start at fly-half for this weekend’s pivotal World Cup Pool A clash against New Zealand.

Parra switches from his normal scrum-half position to replace Francois Trinh-Duc, who drops to the bench, after an impressive kicking display in the 46-19 win over Canada on Sunday.

“My deliberations were long,” Lièvremont said. “The decision over the half-backs has not been easy but Francois Trinh-Duc has paid the price a bit for his two only partially successful displays.

“Morgan Parra has taken his place and done well twice. At a certain point you have to make a choice. I am now waiting for a response from Francois, certainly (when he comes on) during the game on Saturday.”

Parra played at fly-half for the last quarter of both previous pool matches as France finally overcame stuttering starts to secure bonus point wins.

All Blacks fans have a morbid fear of France when it comes to the World Cup but Ireland’s win against Australia have led to traitorous whispers that another French triumph would actually be a good thing for the host nation.

The same equation applies to France of course but when coach Marc Lièvremont was asked the question he, as expected, dismissed the notion.

“I don’t think we will start thinking we want to lose, that’s certainly not an option, even if it’s easier — and the All Blacks might want to lose,” he said.

“I don’t think it is in the spirit of rugby to start a match thinking we are going to lose.”

FRANCE (Pool A v New Zealand, Saturday, 9.30am): D Traille, V Clerc, A Rougerie, M Mermoz, M Medard, M Parra, D Yachvili; JP Poux, D Szarzewski, L Ducalcon; P Pape, L Nallet; T Dusautoir, J Bonnaire, L Picamoles.

Replacements: W Servat, F Barcella, J Pierre, I Harinordoquy, F Trinh-Duc, F Estebanez, C Heymans.

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