French name depleted squad for tour

France have named an experimental squad for the two-Test tour of New Zealand.

France have named an experimental squad for the two-Test tour of New Zealand.

Deprived of a raft of star names owing to the Top 14 play-offs that will take place at the same time, head coach Bernard Laporte and team manager Jo Maso have gone for a mixture of youth and experience in a preliminary 33-man squad.

Players from Stade Francais, Toulouse and Clermont-Auvergne have been precluded from selection, while the squad will be trimmed to 26 on May 26 once the fourth and final team to make the play-offs – either Biarritz or Perpignan – is known.

Veterans Olivier Magne and Christian Califano, who play in England with London Irish and Gloucester respectively, have briefly been recalled to the international fold.

And selectors have sprung a surprise by including Mathieu Bastareaud (Massy) and Franck Montanella (Auch), who play outside the French top flight.

Wasps hooker Raphael Ibanez will captain the squad for the two Tests. The first will be played in Auckland on June 2, with the second coming a week later in Wellington.

Forwards: D Attoub (Castres), C Califano (Gloucester), F Montanella (Auch), N Mas (Perpignan) (or B Lecouls, Biarritz), S Bruno (Sale), R Ibanez (Wasps, capt), P Pape (Castres), J Pierre (Bourgoin), O Olibeau (Perpignan) (or J Thion, Biarritz), S Chabal (Sale), D Chouly (Birve), O Magne (London Irish), M Lievremont (Agen), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz) (or G Le Corvec, Perpignan)

Backs: N Durand (Perpignan) (or D Yachvili, Biarritz), M Barrau (Agen), B Boyet (Bourgoin), N Laharrague (Perpignan) (or M Petitjean, Brive), M Bastareaud (Massy), D Marty (Perpignan) (or R Cabannes, Biarritz), L Valbon (Brive), J-P Grandclaude (Perpignan) (or A Mignardi, Agen), P Elhorga (Agen), J Laharrague (Sale), B Thiery (Bayonne), T Castaignede (Saracens).

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