Rugby World Cup 2011
French XV unchanged for final
Marc Lievremont (File)
Auckland - Unpredictable to the end, a smiling Marc Lievremont on Wednesday named an unchanged French starting line-up to face New Zealand in Sunday's Rugby World Cup final - his last match in charge of Les Bleus.
Having built a reputation as a coach who constantly tinkers with team selections, Lievremont uncharacteristically kept faith with the 15 players who started when France beat Wales 9-8 in the semi-finals.
It was a second consecutive unchanged starting 15 for Lievremont, but he will not name his seven replacements for Sunday's Eden Park clash until later in the week.
"There are still some players slightly injured who didn't train yesterday, so I will name replacements later," the coach told a news conference.
"It was quite clear for me to name the same 15. A simple decision."
Dimitri Yachvili starts at scrumhalf despite the thigh injury that saw him give up kicking duties against Wales, while Morgan Parra, a scrumhalf at test level until this tournament, retains the number 10 shirt.
The replacements must be named before Friday evening.
Yachvili and Parra, plus William Servat, are carrying niggling injuries, but Lievremont said he was not overly concerned.
"It is the same as last week with minor injuries ... I expect these 15 players to be on the pitch at nine o'clock on Sunday."
The enigmatic coach said the French preparations had not changed and that he had great confidence in his team before their mammoth task.
"Everything has been more or less the same - our preparation on and off the pitch -- and we will use any pressure we are feeling to our advantage."
The French have already faced the All Blacks in this World Cup, going down 37-17 in the pool stage.
"Yes, we've played them before, and we all remember the score there," Lievremont smiled. "But ... we now know the team and that will help us.
"All I am focusing on now is this match, preparing the players and making sure we have the best chance possible.
"I know how we are going to try to win ... but I'll keep those words for my players' ears only."
France: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Aurelien Rougerie, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Morgan Parra, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Pascal Pape, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 William Servat, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux
* RWC final odds on BET.CO.ZA: New Zealand vs France