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France bulks up pack to counter England's strength

France bulks up pack to counter England's strength

France moved Sebastien Chabal from lock to blindside flanker to play England in the Six Nations on Sunday, recalling Jerome Thion into the second row to add muscular impact against the powerful English pack.
Chabal had played at lock in the win over Wales last round, but he will join Thierry Dusautoir and No. 8 Imanol Harinordoquy in the backrow with Thion joining captain Lionel Nallet in the second row for the match at Twickenham.
"It's been a while that we have been thinking about this option," France coach Marc Lievremont said Wednesday. "Sebastien will bring his ability to break the defensive line and some solutions to counter the English game."
It will be the first time that Chabal plays in the backrow since Lievremont took charge of the French team after the 2007 World Cup. Chabal's on-field style and the fact that he plays in England with Sale were important in the decision to switch positions.
"Chabal is used to the English league, he has become immersed in the English rugby frame of mind," assistant coach Didier Retiere said. "Both his mental strength and his power will benefit the team."
Thion will make his first appearance for France since last year's Six Nations, replacing Romain Millo-Chluski, who is sidelined with an Achilles' tendon injury.
Lievremont picked No. 10 Francois Trinh-Duc to replace the injured Benoit Baby and partner Morgan Parra _ who will be in charge of kicking _ in the halves, while the only other change is loosehead prop Lionel Faure coming in for Fabien Barcella.
Mathieu Bastareaud will win a second cap at outside center after an impressive debut in France's surprise 21-16 defeat of defending Gram Slam champion Wales on Feb. 27. Bastareaud was preferred to Florian Fritz, who was available after his three-weeks suspension ended.
Lievremont has added experience to his team by deciding to start seven players in their 30s.
"We needed to rejuvenate the team and the young players we started have played some good games," Retiere said. "Now, some more experienced players are coming back to add consistency to the team."
France and Wales each have four points, two behind leader Ireland with two rounds to play. England has already lost twice.
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France: Maxime Medard, Julien Malzieu, Mathieu Bastareaud, Yannick Jauzion, Cedric Heymans, Francois Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra; Lionel Faure, Dimitri Szarzewski, Sylvain Marconnet, Lionel Nallet, Jerome Thion, Sebastien Chabal, Thierry Dusautoir, Imanol Harinordoquy.
Replacements: Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Louis Picamoles, Julien Bonnaire, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Florian Fritz, Damien Traille.


Updated : 2021-03-01 19:09 GMT+08:00