Michalak back in France squad
Frederic Michalak (Gallo)
Paris - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre will, as expected, leave captain Thierry Dusautoir at home after ringing the changes for 'Les Bleus' tour of Argentina next month.
A total of nine players were called up to the France squad for the first time and could make their full debut during the June 16-23 tour, during which France will play the Pumas twice.
Among the nine are locks Antoine Guillamon (Lyon), Yvan Watremez (Biarritz) and Christophe Samson (Toulon), hooker Christopher Tolofua (Toulouse), flank Romain Taofifenua (Perpignan), scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud (Agen), centres Geoffrey Doumayrou (Montpellier) and Romain Martial (Castres) and wing Brice Dulin (Agen).
Dusautoir, who will not take part in the tournament, will be replaced by Stade Francais lock Pascal Pape although that decision was widely expected after hints from Saint-Andre.
Pape, who has 40 caps, captained France during their tour to New Zealand in 2007.
And the 31-year-old believes the visitors could be pushed hard by a team composed primarily of Argentina's up and coming Pampas, who will be emotionally charged due to the impending retirement of Felipe Contepomi and Rodrigo Roncero.
"Argentina will want to surprise us, so it will be difficult," said Pape.
"It will be emotional because it will mark the international retirements of Felipe and Rodrigo. Their team will be made up primarily of players from the Pampas, who are used to playing against the southern hemisphere nations.
"What awaits is quite formidable."
Frederic Michalak meanwhile has been offered the chance for a 55th cap for France. The 29-year-old scrumhalf, who plays his rugby for Sharks in South Africa, won his last cap during the 2010 Six Nations.
France, who finished fourth in the last Six Nations, suffered a narrow defeat to New Zealand in the final of the World Cup last year. Some of that squad will not travel to Argentina, as Saint-Andre goes about building the backbone of the squad he will take to England for the 2015 World Cup.
Lock Nicolas Mas, lock Julien Pierre and wing Vincent Clerc have been left behind while others, such as hooker William Servat, lock Lionel Nallet and flank Julien Bonnaire have all retired from international rugby.
France are scheduled to play Argentina in Cordoba on June 16 and June 23 in Tucuman.
A warm-up match for the tournament is planned for June 6 in Biarritz, four days before they depart for Argentina, and will double as a testimony for former international Serge Betsen.
France's 28-man squad:
David Attoub (Stade Francais), Vincent Debaty (Clermont), Antoine Guillamon (Lyon), Yvan Watremez (Biarritz), Christopher Tolofua (Toulouse), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Christophe Samson (Toulon), Pascal Pape (Stade Francais, capt), Romain Taofifenua (Perpignan), Alexandre Lapandry (Clermont), Wenceslas Lauret (Biarritz), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse), Raphael Lakafia (Biarritz)
Maxime Machenaud (Agen), Morgan Parra (Clermont), Frederic Michalak (Sharks/RSA), Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Geoffrey Doumayrou (Montpellier), Florian Fritz (Toulouse), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Maxime Mermoz (Perpignan), Benjamin Fall (Racing-Metro), Romain Martial (Castres), Yoann Huget (Bayonne), Jean-Marcellin Buttin (Clermont), Brice Dulin (Agen)