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France bank on Fofana for flair against Romania

Image: France’s Wesley Fofana (3rd R) and Scott Spedding (2nd R)fight for the ball with Scotland’s Tommy Seymour (R) in their rugby union match at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris, France, September 5, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit …



By Rex Gowar

LONDON (Reuters) – France’s second match at the Rugby World Cup is a chance for players to impress coach Philippe Saint-Andre when they take on Romania in Pool D at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.

With only four days rest after a 32-10 victory over Italy at Twickenham, Saint-Andre has made 13 changes to his team, possibly a risk but something he was planning all along.

Centre Wesley Fofana returns from injury and it is an opportunity for Fiji-born wing Noa Nakaitaci to prove himself after a mediocre performance against the Azzurri.

Saint-Andre is hoping Fofana can inject traditional French flair into the back line which was missing on Saturday with centres Mathieu Bastareaud and Alexandre Dumoulin powerful but predictable with their lack of a change of pace. 

Nakaitaci and Louis Picamoles are the only players not getting a rest but in the number eight’s case it is more about retaining balance in the side after his man-of-the-match performance and the fact he came off with 15 minutes left.

The versatile Morgan Parra, flyhalf in the French side that lost the 2011 final to New Zealand and back in the side in his more regular position of scrumhalf, is expected to take on the kicking duties in the absence of Frederic Michalak.

Freshness was a key in Saint-Andre’s selection given that it is Romania’s first match in a pool that also contains Ireland and Canada. The Irish top the standings after their 50-7 victory over the Canadians.

France face a very experienced Romania side with three players in their squad at their fourth World Cup, prop Paulica Ion and flyhalf Danut Dumbrava in the starting XV and back-row forward Ovidiu Tonita on the bench.

Prop Mihaita Lazar pointed to the fact that several Romania players know the French well since they play their club rugby in France.

“Every player in our squad who has gone overseas has improved,” he said. ”I can adapt quicker to different styles of play,” he said.

“I think the quality and competition over there (in France) is a lot greater so it will help me in this match particularly.”

France: 1-Vincent Debaty, 2-Dimitri Szarzewski (captain), 3-Uini Atonio, 4-Bernard Le Roux, 5-Alexandre Flanquart, 6-Yannick Nyanga, 7-Fulgence Ouedraogo, 8-Louis Picamoles, 9-Morgan Parra, 10-Remi Tales, 11-Noa Nakaitaci, 12-Wesley Fofana, 13-Gael Fickou, 14-Sofiane Guitoune, 15-Brice Dulin.

Replacements: 16-Benjamin Kayser, 17-Eddy Ben Arous, 18-Nicolas Mas, 19-Yoann Maestri, 20-Damien Chouly, 21-Rory Kockott, 22-Frederic Michalak, 23-Mathieu Bastareaud
Romania: 1-Mihaita Lazar, 2-Otar Turashvili, 3-Paulica Ion,
4-Valentin Poparlan, 5-Johannes van Heerden, 6-Valentin Ursache, 7-Viorel Lucaci, 8-Mihai Macovei (captain); 9-Florin Surugiu,

10-Danut Dumbrava, 11-Adrian Apostol, 12-Florin Vlaicu,
13-Paula Kinikinilau, 14- Madalin Lemnaru, 15-Catalin Fercu
Replacements: 16-Andrei Radoi, 17-Andrei Ursache, 18-Horatiu Pungea, 19-Ovidiu Tonita, 20-Stelian Burcea, 21-Valentin Calafeteanu, 22-Ionut Botezatu, 23-Csaba Gal

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions

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