Three changes for French team

by staff

France coach Marc Lievremont made three changes to his starting lineup on Tuesday when he named his side to play Italy in the Six Nations in Rome on Saturday.

Two of those were in the pack where Castres flanker Julien Bonnaire replaces Imanol Harinordoquy and Sylvain Marconnet returns at loose-head prop taking over from Thomas Domingo.

Maxime Medard, who missed the 17-9 loss to England at Twickenham due to injury, comes in at full-back for Clement Poitrenaud.

The biggest surprise was with the dropping of Harinordoquy, who is widely regarded as being one of the best back row players in the world, and the retention of Racing Metro powerhouse Sebastien Chabal, who played poorly against England.

Chabal "has my full confidence" the coach said, adding that he failed to understand all the criticism that was levelled against him and winger Yoann Huget after the England game which wrecked French hopes of back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams.

On the two changes made to the pack Lievremont said: "We are trying to change things a little, to give playing time to others, but at the same time to keep some kind of consistency in our approach.

"On top of that we have to take into account the fact that some players were more involved than others in domestic league games last weekend."

France opened the tournament with wins over Scotland and Ireland before the crushing defeat to England and will travel to Wales after the game in Italy.

"It's frustrating for us to see England going for the Grand Slam but we must stay in the tournament and aim for an honourable finish," Lievremont said.

"Playing away to Italy is never that straightforward. We have handled them well in the last two years, but we saw that the Italians came close to defeating both Ireland and Wales.

"If they lose against us they will be playing for the Wooden Spoon against Scotland, so we know that they are going to be full of determination."

France: Maxime Medard, Yoann Huget, Aurelien Rougerie, Yannick Jauzion, Vincent Clerc, Francois Trinh-Duc, Dimitri Yachvili, Sebastien Chabal, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir, Lionel Nallet, Julien Pierre, Nicolas Mas, William Servat, Sylvain Marconnet.

Reserves: Guilhem Guirado, Luc Ducalcon, Jerome Thion, Imanol Harinordoquy , Morgan Parra, Damien Traille, Clement Poitrenaud.