France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili has been ruled out of Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations clash against Ireland in Paris with a back problem.
Morgan Parra has instead been drafted into the starting XV by coach Philippe Saint-Andre, with Julien Dupuy elevated to the replacements’ bench.
Yachvili had been optimistic the problem would clear before the Stade de France clash, but with no marked improvement noted in recent days Saint-Andre has elected to act now in order to give Parra time to integrate into the starting line-up.
“We thought primarily of the player’s well-being but the pain does not go,” Saint-Andre said in a statement.
“In order not to damage the preparation of this important game, I decided to make a decision 48 hours ahead of the match and allow his successor to work with us during the next two days on the combinations that we have put in place for two weeks.
“I am obviously sad for Dimitri, who always brings a lot to France’s game in regard to his experience and I wish him a speedy recovery.”
Yachvili added: “I do not feel 100%, and I think it is more reasonable to rest and take care of myself to be operational again as soon as possible.”
Yachvili’s withdrawal takes to five the number of changes Saint-Andre has made to his team from the opening 30-12 victory over Italy.
Imanol Harinordoquy, named on the bench last weekend, has been selected ahead of Julien Bonnaire due to his line-out presence. Jean-Baptiste Poux comes in for Vincent Debaty at prop, hooker Dimitri Szarzewski replaces William Servat, and Yoann Maestri has been given the nod ahead of Lionel Nallet in the second row.
World Cup finalists France are favourites to win the 2012 Six Nations and are widely expected to beat Ireland, who have triumphed in Paris just once since 1972.
Ireland kicked off their Six Nations campaign with a last-gasp 23-21 defeat by Wales on Sunday.