France rest Picamoles, give Grosso WC debut

Coach Philippe Saint-Andre named a line-up with four changes from the side that beat Italy.

The Rugby World Cup trophy. Picture: Rugby World Cup/Facebook.

LONDON - France have opted to rest number eight Louis Picamoles and will give wing Remy Grosso his first Rugby World Cup start in the Pool D match against Canada at Milton Keynes on Thursday.

Coach Philippe Saint-Andre, having altered almost his whole team for last week's win over Romania, named a line-up on Tuesday with four changes from the side that beat Italy in their opening match at Twickenham on 19 September.

Bernard Le Roux will play as openside flanker with Damien Chouly moving to number eight, while in the backs Wesley Fofana keeps his place at inside centre having missed the Italy match through injury and Brice Dulin, fullback against the Romanians, stays in the team as right wing with Grosso on the left.

Uncapped Grosso was drafted into the squad as cover after Yoann Huget was ruled out of the tournament.

"Picamoles played three warm-up matches in a row then two matches in four days (at the World Cup) and needs to recover, to refresh, and has been doing specific work (for that)," Saint-Andre told reporters at the team's hotel in south London.

He said he had chosen his back three, including two specialist fullbacks in Scott Spedding and Dulin, to field the high kicks he expects from Canada.

"Many teams play with two fullbacks given the many high balls kicked in modern rugby," he said.

"It's also good to have an extra kicker and if it rains we will have more options with the boot."

Saint-Andre said it had been good to give all 31 players in his squad a game in the first two matches.

"If we want to go far in this competition it's maybe the third choice player in a particular position who can make the difference," he said.

"We have four wins in a row and are keen to get a fifth. We've had some quality practices this week, made progress in rucks and in the contact. With the high number of rucks per match we need to be more precise in them," he said.

"Canada have good, fast backs. They are one of the countries that have taken strongly to sevens from when the sport became Olympic, they have great athletes."

Team: 1-Eddy Ben Arous, 2-Guilhem Guirado, 3-Rabah Slimani, 4-Pascal Pape, 5-Yoann Maestri, 6-Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 7-Bernard Le Roux, 8-Damien Chouly; 9-Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 10-Frederic Michalak, 11-Brice Dulin, 12-Wesley Fofana, 13-Mathieu Bastareaud, 14-Remy Grosso, 15-Scott Spedding

Replacements: 16-Benjamin Kayser, 17-Vincent Debaty, 18-Nicolas Mas, 19-Yannick Nyanga, 20-Fulgence Ouedraogo, 21-Morgan Parra, 22-Remi Tales, 23-Alexandre Dumouli.

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