Injury rules Fofana out of French lineup

2015-09-17 17:05

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).

Teams:

France:

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

Italy:

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


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