Fofana in France team

2012-01-31 13:58

Paris - France have named uncapped Wesley Fofana in their team to face Italy in the opening game of the Six Nations at the Stade de France on Saturday with manager Philippe Saint-Andre saying his selection shows there are opportunities for young prospects.

"We want to show that the France team is open to young players who are regular starters with their club," Saint-Andre, who took over from Marc Lievremont last December, told a news conference at France's training camp on the outskirts of Paris.

Centre Fofana will partner Clermont team mate Aurelien Rougerie in a team featuring 12 players from the World Cup squad that reached the final against New Zealand last October.

"He is a classy player, I just want him not to be shy. I want him to show with France what he has been showing in the Top 14.

"He is one of the rare players who kept their place in their club's starting lineup when the others returned from the World Cup."

The presence of Rougerie should help Fofana on his international debut as France will be out to avenge last year's Six Nations defeat by Italy.

"His presence is reassuring, he's the daddy of the backline and the fact that they play club rugby together was a factor," Saint-Andre explained.

The powerful Louis Picamoles will start as number eight at the expense of Imanol Harinordoquy.

"He is powerful and he has been impressive with his club since he came back from the World Cup, while Imanol was out injured for three weeks," said Saint-Andre.

Francois Trinh-Duc will start at flyhalf as expected, with Dimitri Yachvili at scrumhalf.

Belgian-born Vincent Debaty, who has only won one cap for France back in 2006, will start at loosehead prop, where he is expected to challenge Italy's Martin Castrogiovanni.

Debaty was impressive against Castrogiovanni in Clermont's 30-12 victory over Leicester in the Heineken Cup last month.

"Castrogiovanni is one of the best props is the world but I trust Vincent," said Saint-Andre.

"It's an opportunity he has to seize. We know he carries the ball very well, but we will also expect him to gain possession."


15. Maxime Medard, 14. Vincent Clerc, 13. Aurelien Rougerie, 12. Wesley Fofana, 11. Julien Malzieu, 10. Fran├žois Trinh-Duc, 9. Dimitri Yachvili, 8. Louis Picamoles, 7. Julien Bonnaire, 6. Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5. Lionel Nallet, 4. Pascal Pape, 3. Nicolas Mas, 2. William Servat, 1. Vincent Debaty.

Substitutes: 16. Dimitri Szarzewski, 17. Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18. Yoann Maestri, 19. Imanol Harinordoquy, 20. Morgan Parra, 21. Lionel Beauxis, 22. Maxime Mermoz.