French ahead of schedule

by staff

France coach Marc Lievremont's sometimes prickly relationship with the media resurfaced when asked who was his No.1 halfback ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Morgan Parra was the undisputed first choice until his form dipped last season, after an outstanding previous campaign which saw him inspire the French to the grand slam and Clermont to their first ever domestic championship.

Meanwhile, veteran Dimitri Yachvili has fought his way back into contention.

"Regarding Morgan Parra, well since the Six Nations, you have bored me with the debate about his rivalry with Dimitri," said Lievremont.

"We have decided to rotate them and to continue like that in the first matches."

Lievremont said his squad was progressing well in their training camp as they bid to land the World Cup trophy for the first time when the tournament gets underway in New Zealand on September 9.

"Yes I am satisfied with the way training has been going, actually it is above my expectations," said Lievremont, who despite landing the 2010 Six Nations Grand Slam has had his position called into question since with a series of disappointing performances.

Lievremont said that the two warm-up matches against Ireland in Bordeaux on August 13 and in Dublin a week later would be ideal preparation.

"The warm-up matches are more than just friendlies," said Lievremont.

"They are the only two matches before the World Cup. We need to see if the players have the capacity to maintain the rhythm, if things are functioning alright, to see how we fare against counter attacks by a really good side, and to see the enthusiasm and aggression of the players.