Flanker Lauret replaces Le Roux in France side

GREGORY BLACHIER
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2014

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France have made one change to their starting lineup for Friday's (Saturday NZ time) Six Nations clash against Wales, with flanker Wenceslas Lauret called up to earn his sixth cap as the visitors seek to maintain their perfect start to this year's tournament.

France manager Philippe Saint-Andre named the 24-year-old Lauret in his squad on Wednesday as a replacement for Bernard Le Roux, who is still recovering after being kneed in the head during the 30-10 victory over Italy in Paris on February 9.

Saint-Andre has made three other changes to his replacements for the match in Cardiff with hooker Brice Mach set to make his debut after regular starter Benjamin Kayser picked up a serious knee injury in a French Top 14 match last week.

Kayser's tournament-ending injury came as a blow to the France manager, who was critical of domestic clubs for appearing to ignore an agreement not to field internationals in league games during last week's break from Six Nations action.

"Fifteen England players were rested last weekend, most of the Irish, 20 Welsh. We, we just had six players rested," Saint-Andre told a news conference on Wednesday.

"We would have liked to protect our hookers but we lost Kayser, who was among the leaders of the group.

"We wanted to include Brice (Mach) in the squad at the start of the season but we couldn't because he was injured.

"He has only had four days to work with us, to understand our tactics, our line-outs. But I'm confident he will give everything he can."

TALES RETURNS

Vincent Debaty, who can play as either a tighthead or loosehead prop, has been called up to replace Rabah Slimani after the latter was banned for two weeks following his red card against Italy.

Flyhalf Remi Tales, who was expected to be the first choice for the championship but missed the first two matches because of an arm injury, is recalled to the bench at the expense of Francois Trinh-Duc as the final change to the matchday squad.

Tales remains behind Jules Plisson in the pecking order for the Wales match, however, after the 22-year-old Stade Francais flyhalf put on an assured display on debut in the 26-24 home victory over England and followed that up against Italy.

"Jules Plisson has the ability to shine in this match," Saint-Andre said. "But we put five forwards and three backs on the bench because we know how powerful the Welsh are.

"They often attack the flyhalf so we needed a replacement for Jules because it could be tough."

France are joint-leaders with Ireland on four points from two matches, while two-time defending champions Wales have two points following a win and a defeat.

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FRANCE: Brice Dulin, Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval, Jules Plisson, Jean-Marc Doussain, Louis Picamoles, Wenceslas Lauret, Yannick Nyanga, Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape (captain), Nicolas Mas, Dimitri Szarzewski, Thomas Domingo. Reserves: Brice Mach, Yannick Forestier, Vincent Debaty, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly, Maxime Machenaud, Remi Tales, Gael Fickou

- Reuters

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