Wesley Fofana (AFP Photo)
Twickenham - Star centre Wesley Fofana will miss France's World Cup opener against European rivals Italy at Twickenham on Saturday after failing to recover from a groin injury.
The 27-year-old 35-times capped Clermont ace is replaced by Alexandre Dumoulin, who gets another chance despite failing to sparkle in the warm-up Test 19-14 defeat by England on August 15 also at Twickenham.
"We need players who are 100 percent fit on Saturday and Wesley is not," said head coach Philippe Saint-Andre.
"Therefore he is not in the 23 man matchday squad." Saint-Andre still believes Fofana will be fit for the next Pool D game against Romania on September 23.
Saint-Andre, who will step down at the end of France's campaign, selected the Toulon duo of veteran Freddie Michalak and Sebastien Tillous-Borde at fly-half and scrum-half respectively for the third successive game.
Saint-Andre, who has failed to bring more consistency to the France team performances and selection than his predecessor Marc Lievremont managed, said it was imperative the French got off to a good start.
"It is vital we start well," said the 48-year-old former France captain, whose record in charge of the national team since the 2011 World Cup reads a modest 17 wins, two draws and 21 defeats.
"It is important the players do not play the game in their heads before kick-off and its got to be good on the day."
Aside from Italy and Romania the French -- who have three times got to the final without lifting the trophy, losing the 2011 edition 8-7 to the All Blacks -- will play Canada and round off the pool stage with a potential table-topping decider with Six Nations champions Ireland, who Saint-Andre has yet to overcome in four meetings (two draws and two defeats).
15 Scott Spedding, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Damien Chouly, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (capt), 5 Pascal Pape, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Nicolas Mas, 19 Bernard Le Roux, 20 Alexandre Flanquart, 21 Morgan Parra, 22 Remi Tales, 23 Gael Fickou
15 Luke McLean, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Andrea Masi, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Edoardo Gori; 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Francesco Minto, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Josh Furno, 4 Quintin Geldenhays, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Matias Aguero
Replacements: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Simone Favaro, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Enrico Bacchin