Philippe Saint-Andre makes five changes to France squad for Twickenham showdown
Last Updated: February 11, 2013 2:52pm
Philippe Saint Andre: Under pressure after back-to-back defeats
Under-pressure France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made five changes to his squad for their clash with England at Twickenham - with key man Vincent Clerc fit for the trip to London.
France have been on the wrong end of two Six Nations upsets so far, losing to Italy in Rome and then at home to struggling Wales.
Saint-Andre is able to recall fit-again wing Clerc, who has recovered from a thigh injury, for the February 23 showdown.
Clerc's return will allow Saint-Andre to restore Wesley Fofana - who has been playing as a makeshift winger - back to his usual position in midfield.
Centre Maxime Mermoz, anonymous against Wales, is dropped, along with loose forwards Fulgence Ouedraogo - who has a knock - and Damien Chouly, plus prop Yannick Forestier and lock Romain Taofifenua.
"After these defeats, we've made five changes because it is necessary to freshen up the squad mentally and physically."
Saint-Andre has called up the uncapped South Africa-born flanker Antonie Claassen and his Castres team-mate, lock Cristophe Samson, who won one cap last June in a 49-10 win against Argentina.
"Antonie Claassen is the type of player who can bring us power and movement," Saint-Andre said. "He can play at six or No. 8. We've been following him for the past 15 months."
Flanker Yannick Nyanga, who had been left out of the squad before the Italy game because of injury, returns and loosehead prop Thomas Domingo is back after being dropped from Saint-Andre's initial 33-man group.
"After these defeats, we've made five changes because it is necessary to freshen up the squad mentally and physically," Saint-Andre said.
"We want to get the team spirit back that we had in November."
Fowards: Vincent Debaty (Clermont), Thomas Domingo (Clermont), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing-Metro), Luc Ducalcon (Racing-Metro), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Christophe Samson (Castres), Jocelino Suta (Toulon), Antonie Claassen (Castres), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)
Backs: Maxime Machenaud (Racing-Metro), Morgan Parra (Clermont), Frederic Michalak (Toulon), Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Benjamin Fall (Racing-Metro), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Florian Fritz (Toulouse), Yoann Huget (Toulouse)