France on Thursday announced two changes as they prepare to take on Grand Slam champions Wales in Saturday’s Six Nations showdown in Paris.
Both countries lost their opening encounters – France going down to Italy in Rome while Wales succumbed on home turf to Ireland.
France manager Philippe Saint-Andre has brought in Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud in place of Florian Fritz, while Bastareaud’s club teammate and second rower Jocelino Suta steps in for injured captain Pascal.
Toulouse flanker Thierry Dusautoir skippers the side.
Suta, 30, has just three caps to date, having made his debut in last November’s win over Australia at Stade de France.
Despite the Rome loss, Saint-Andre retains his half-back pairing of Frederic Michalak and Maxime Machenaud as the French look to inflict a ninth straight loss on Wales — who have enjoyed just three away wins against France since 1975.
Bastareaud, coming back from two years away from the international scene, came on from the bench for Fritz midway through the second half.
Fritz has started the last seven internationals and Saint-Andre had kind words for him despite dropping him to the bench.
“We know all about Florian’s qualities. We know he will come on and it’s down to him to bring to bear all his qualities along with the ferocity of his defensive capabilities.”
Saint-Andre noting that constituted “a strategic choice” and not a “punishment.”
“It is not a punishment. We win as a squad of 23 and lose as 23. It is more strategic. We know Florian’s qualities – he started the last seven games. The group knows it is not his fault [France lost to the Italians]. The fault is collective. When you lose 16 balls in duels that is not down to Florian Fritz.”
Saint-Andre stressed that after France’s opening loss he would now look to see how much character his squad possesses.
“At the highest level it is not the dynamic of victories which show what you’re made of but in how you deal with defeat. We shall see how capable we are of reacting individually and collectively to find solutions,” he insisted, demanding a reaction and “great solidarity” in swiftly turning their campaign around.
“To be ambitious is to show it on the pitch,” noted Saint-Andre, urging his side to “rediscover collective precision and a physical and mental ferocity to win duels as well as the efficiency which was cruelly lacking for us against Italy.
“It is unacceptable to have regrets at the end of a top level match and we will do all we can in order to have no regrets come Saturday afternoon. We believe in this group,” he concluded.
France: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Benjamin Fall, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Louis Picamoles , 7 Thierry Dusautoir (Captain), 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Jocelino Suta, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Luc Ducalcon, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Damian Chouly, 21 Morgan Parra, 22 Francois Trinh-Duc, 23 Florian Fritz.
Date: 9 February 2013
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 17:00 GMT