MARCOUSSIS, February 22 – Sebastien Chabal has been restored to the French starting line-up for the Six Nations showdown against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Racing-Metro powerhouse will wear the No.8 shirt as one of six changes, two positional, from the team that defeated Ireland 25-22 in Dublin on February 13.
Imanol Harinordoquy moves to flanker to accomodate Chabal, who played for several years at Sale before returning to France, with Julien Bonnaire dropping out.
The other changes announced by coach Marc Lievremont were all in the back division with Yannick Jauzion replacing Damien Traille at centre, Dimitri Yachvili taking over from Morgan Parra at scrum-half and Vincent Clerc in for Maxime Medard on the wing.
Medard switches to full-back replacing Clement Poitrenaud who drops down to the bench.
Both France and England are unbeaten after two games and the Twickenham clash is widely seen as being the key match in this year’s Six Nations with the French attempting to wrack up back-to-back Grand Slams.
Lievremont, who stirred things up at the weekend with an "anti-English" rant, said that he had told his players to "be prepared to suffer" in the face of English physical superiority.
"What is crystal clear is that the English players are all fresh physically. They have a well defined programme of physical preparation, which is not the case with my players," he said.
"I don’t have the actual facts and figures in front of me, but the English players have played only half the games that my men have.
"They had two or three months in the close season when they were able to work on their fitness and that pays dividends in the end. We need to be prepared to suffer in that area."
Lievremont said that despite the win in Dublin, he had been unhappy with several aspects of the French performance. "In our attacks we were too static and we lacked penetration and speed."
The France team to play England in the Six Nations tournament at Twickenham on Saturday:-
Maxime Medard (Toulouse): Yoann Huget (Bayonne), Aurelien Rougerie (Clermont), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse); Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz); Sebastien Chabal (Racing-Metro), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt); Lionel Nallet (Racing-Metro), Julien Pierre (Clermont); Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), William Servat (Toulouse), Thomas Domingo (Clermont).
Replacements: Guilhem Guirado (Perpignan), Sylvain Marconnet (Biarritz), Jerome Thion (Biarritz), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont), Morgan Parra (Clermont), Damien Traille (Biarritz), Clement Poitrenaud (Stade Toulousain)