France out for revenge over England

France will be hunting for a revenge win over England when the two rivals meet
in their second World Cup warm-up match in Paris on Saturday.

Stuart Lancaster’s men have won the last two meetings — both at Twickenham
— including last weekend’s 19-14 success, with France eager to repeat the outcome
of their last Paris encounter.

Gael Fickou’s late try downed England 26-24 at the Stade de France in the opening
game of the 2014 Six Nations — a result which ultimately cost the 2003 world
champions the title.

Outgoing France coach Philippe Saint-Andre, who will make way for Guy Noves
after the World Cup, has rung the changes — 12 in total — as Les Bleus look
to avoid a third successive defeat against their bitter rivals.

First-choice centres Mathieu Bastareaud and Wesley Fofana are back in midfield,
while Toulon club-mates Frederic Michalak and Sebastien Tillous-Borde are paired
at half-back.

“They (Michalak and Tillous-Borde) are used to playing together and I
expect them to get the team playing just as well as Morgan (Parra) and Francois
(Trinh-Duc) did last week,” said Saint-Andre.

“Saturday’s match will be even more intense than last week,” added
the former Gloucester and Sale Sharks boss, who will cut his squad from 36 to
31 players on Sunday.

Giant Toulouse number 8 Louis Picamoles keeps his place at the base of the
French scrum, with Clermont-bound full-back Scott Spedding and Toulouse lock
Yoann Maestri the only other two players to retain their spots.

Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado and Eddy Ben Arous form the front row with Stade
Francais lock Pascal Pape captaining the side after returning from a thigh strain.

Damien Chouly and Bernard Le Roux complete the back row alongside Picamoles
with regular captain Thierry Dusautoir rested after injury.

Yoann Huget — who scored two of France’s three tries in that Six Nations win
over England last year — comes onto the wing alongside Noa Nakaitaci.

England, who last won at the Stade de France in the 2012 Six Nations, have
also made wholesale changes, opting for a near first-choice starting 15, with
coach Stuart Lancaster keen to freshen things up.

“There is now an opportunity for those not involved or who didn’t get
much opportunity from the bench to put a marker down and build on that performance,”
said head coach Stuart Lancaster.

“France were very good last weekend and will be even stronger at home
and this will be a big test but these guys have been working hard for the opportunity
and are desperate to go out and perform,” added Lancaster.

Only Gloucester wing Jonny May retains his place from last weekend with Mike
Brown — who’s recovered from concussion — and Jack Nowell joining him in the
back three.

Jonathan Joseph and Luther Burrell are back at centre with preferred half-back
pairing George Ford and Ben Youngs completing the backs.

Captain Chris Robshaw returns at openside flanker alongside back-row partners
James Haskell and Billy Vunipola, while Courtney lawes is at lock with Joe Launchbury
who plays his first international in 12 months after injury.

Dan Cole, Tom Youngs and Joe Marler form a first-choice front row.

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