France name squad for Italy tie

France coach Bernard Laporte has named his 22-man squad to take on Italy at Rome's Stadio Flaminio in the RBS Six Nations next Sunday, with versatile halfback Frédéric Michalak and Bourgoin prop Olivier Milloud both earning call-ups.

France coach Bernard Laporte has named his 22-man squad to take on Italy at Rome's Stadio Flaminio in the RBS Six Nations next Sunday, with versatile halfback Frédéric Michalak and Bourgoin prop Olivier Milloud both earning call-ups.

Laporte had looked like wielding the axe to a number of his stars following their 15-12 defeat to Ireland in Dublin at the weekend, criticising a whole host of players in the media by branding them "cheats and liars".

Openside Serge Betsen was singled out for particular criticism after his high penalty count, as France now stand with a record of won one and lost two from their three matches so far.

It is however Michalak's call-up which is the main shock, the 20-year-old Toulouse star having been capped at both scrum-half and fly-half for Les Bleus, this time coming in with a view to wearing the No10 shirt of Agen's discarded François Gelez.

With Gelez out of the reckoning for the meantime at least, Biarritz scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili could assume goal-kicking duties, a task he already performs at club level, although the big boot of Pau centre Damien Traille is also an option.

Into the pack comes 27-year-old Bourgoin prop Olivier Milloud, brought in at the expense of Saracens' veteran Christian Califano, who had originally started the competition in the vacated No 3 shirt of Pieter de Villiers, but was dropped to the bench after their opening day defeat to England.

France squad:

Forwards (12): Jean-Jacques Crenca (Agen), Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Français), Olivier Milloud (Bourgoin), Raphael Ibanez (Castres), Jean-Baptiste Rué (Agen), Fabien Pelous (Stade Toulousain, captain), Olivier Brouzet (Montferrand), David Auradou (Stade Français), Serge Betsen (Biarritz), Olivier Magne (Montferrand), Sébastien Chabal (Bourgoin), Imanol Harinordoquy (Pau).

Backs (10): Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), Mathieu Barrau (Agen), Gérald Merceron (Montferrand), Frédéric Michalak (Stade Toulousain), Damien Traille (Pau), Xavier Garbajosa (Stade Toulousain), Thomas Castaignède (Saracens/Ang), Vincent Clerc (Stade Toulousain), Aurélien Rougerie (Montferrand), Clément Poitrenaud (Stade Toulousain).

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