France name team for World Cup opener

World Cup hosts France have announced their squad for the tournament opener against Argentina on Friday at the Stade de France.

Coach Bernard Laporte has unsurprisingly named a full-strength team in what is arguably the toughest Pool in the competition.

Cedric Heymans will don the full-back jersey ahead of Toulouse colleague Clement Poitrenaud with the latter failing to make the 22.
Poitrenaud, the only recognised number 15 in the Les Bleus squad, was expected to start against the Pumas, but Heymans’ strong showing in the position in the 34-7 warm-up win over Wales eight days ago has swayed the selectors’ thinking.

David Skrela and Pierre Mignoni have been named as the half-backs, meaning Toulouse pair Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and Frederic Michalak have to be content with places on the bench.

As expected, powerful Clermont-Auvergne star Aurelien Rougerie beats Vincent Clerc to a place on the wing.

And in the fiercely contested back-row department, Remy Martin gets the nod at flanker while Imanol Harinordoquy is selected at number eight ahead of Julien Bonnaire, who is on the bench.

Five of the seven substitutes named by the French are forwards, with Les Bleus clearly expecting a tough battle up front against Argentina.

France Team:

15 Cedric Heymans (Toulouse); 14 Aurelien Rougerie (Clermont-Auvergne), 13 Damien Traille (Biarritz), 12 Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), 11 Christophe Dominici (Stade Francais); 10 David Skrela (Stade Francais), 9 Pierre Mignoni (Clermont-Auvergne); 1 Olivier Milloud (Bourgoin), 2 Raphael Ibanez (Wasps, capt), 3 Pieter De Villiers (Stade Francais), 4 Fabien Pelous (Toulouse), 5 Jerome Thion (Biarritz), 6 Serge Betsen (Biarritz), 7 Remy Martin (Stade Francais), 8 Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz).
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), 17 J-B Poux (Toulouse), 18 Sebastien Chabal (Sale), 19 Julien Bonnaire (Bourgoin), 20 Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), 21 J-B Elissalde (Toulouse), 22 Frederic Michalak (Toulouse).

Kick-off: 21:00 (20:00 GMT)
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis


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