Paris - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said on Monday he was looking for new leaders to emerge in his team for their opening November Test match against Australia here on Saturday.
The French were runners-up to New Zealand in the World Cup last year, but had a disappointing Six Nations in which they could only manage fourth place.
Since then, Saint-Andre, who took over as coach from Marc Lievremont after the World Cup, has switched his focus to preparing for the next World Cup which will be hosted by England in 2015.
"For the last six or seven years guys like (William) Servat, (Lionel) Nallet, (Sebastien) Chabal, Imanol (Harinordoquy), Julien Bonnaire, (Dimitri) Yachvili, (Aurelien) Rougerie were the bosses," he said.
"Some of them have now retired, others are in the garage for repairs, so we have a transition period. We are aware of that and it's all the more interesting for that.
"On Saturday we are going to need soldiers, but we are also going to need leaders on the field."
Asked who he and assistant coaches Yannick Bru and Patrice Lagisquet saw as capable of providing such leadership, Saint-Andre would only say that they had some players in mind, but would only be able to tell come Saturday.
"It's up to us to show confidence in certain players," he added citing the case of hooker Dimitri Szarzewski: "With William (Servat) no longer there, it's up to him to show leadership."
Also among those who have retired from international rugby are Chabal, Nallet and Bonnaire, while injury has ruled out skipper Thierry Dusautoir, Harinordoquoy and Yachvili.
Saint-Andre also said that he had a good idea of who would play at scrumhalf against the Australians in the Stade de France.
In the running are Morgan Parra and Frederic Michalak, who can both play at either scrumhalf or at flyhalf, with Maxime Machenaud and Francois Trinh-Duc available for the No 10 shirt.
"I have a halfback partnership in mind, but we have two more days to work at it before announcing the team."