Laporte beefs up his French pack

France coach Bernard Laporte has made five changes to his squad ahead of the team’s crucial Six Nations encounter against England at Twickenham on Sunday.

Laporte made four of the changes in personnel in the pack as the French seek to maintain their hopes of achieving the Grand Slam, having already beaten Italy, Ireland and the Wales.

He recalled veteran South African-born Stade Francais prop Pieter de Villiers in place of his clubmate Sylvain Marconnet, the nation’s most capped prop having suffered a double fracture of his tibia while on a skiing holiday and he’ll be out for up to four months.

Lock Pascal Pape replaces Gregory Lamboley while Sale team-mates Sebastien Bruno and Sebastien Chabal both return for Benoit August and Elvis Vermeulen respectively.

Vermeulen paid the price for an below-par performance in the French Barbarians 28-14 defeat by Argentina on Saturday.

“These two players (Vermeulen and Chabal) are not far apart in terms of ability,” said France manager Jo Maso.

“However Chabal has the upper hand in that he knows English rugby better, its players and its atmosphere.”

Maso hinted that was much the same in the case of Bruno getting the nod ahead of August.

The only change in the backs sees Toulouse winger Cedric Heymans brought back instead of Aurelien Rougerie.

While France have won all their three matches, England have won two but received a record 43-13 hammering by Ireland last time out.

The starting XV will be announced on Wednesday with scrum-half Dimtri Yachvili, so often England’s nemesis in the past few Six Nation, expected to be given a start.

France squad:

Forwards: Raphael Ibanez (Wasps/ENG, capt), Sebastien Bruno (Sale/ENG), Olivier Milloud (Bourgoin), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Pieter de Villiers (Stade Francais), Lionel Nallet (Castres), Pascal Pape (Castres), Jerome Thion (Biarritz), Serge Betsen (Biarritz), Julien Bonnaire (Bourgoin), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), Sebastien Chabal (Sale/ENG)

Backs: Pierre Mignoni (Clermont), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), David Skrela (Stade Francais), Lionel Beauxis (Stade Francais), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), David Marty (Perpignan), Cedric Heymans (Toulouse), Christophe Dominici (Stade Francais), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse)


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