Bastareaud offers bench impact – PSA

Date published: February 25 2015

Mathieu Bastareaud is not being punished according to Philippe Saint-André despite being dropped to the bench this weekend.

The Toulon centre started both of France's first two Six Nations games, but will only be a replacement against Wales on Saturday at the Stade de France.

In his place will be Rémi Lamerat, who impressed in Dublin, linking up with Wesley Fofana, who spent most of the Ireland game on the wing.

But while Saint-André is looking forward to seeing how Lamerat performs, he feels Bastareaud has a lot to offer off the bench.

"Mathieu's power doesn't hold us back, on the contrary. In rugby these days you have to be able to go forward and get the ball away quickly," said Saint-André.

"Against Ireland we struggled to get the ball away quickly and to mix up our game. Rémi's selection is more a question of strategy considering what the Welsh will do. 

"We think that Mathieu's power can have more of an impact at the end of the game against a tired team. The Welsh move the ball a lot so we've put together a team to cope with that."

Elsewhere Sofiane Guitoune got the nod over Noa Nakaitaci to replace the injured Teddy Thomas, while Romain Taofifenua comes in for the suspended Pascal Papé.

"Sofiane was with us in November 2013. He was a started but suffered some serious injuries. He's back and he has the advantage of being very versatile. He can play full-back, centre or on the wing. 

"He likes the ball and gets very involved in play. He also played very well against Toulon on Saturday. From the moment that Teddy Thomas was injured, it makes sense that he comes into the team and brings a fresh approach, his finishing qualities and his ability to make that final pass, which we lacked against Ireland.

"Romain has been on our radar for three or four years. He'd been a little further down the pecking order recently because his fitness wasn't quite there. He's done a lot of work this season. 

"He's changed club and reevaluated himself. When he's come on, he's brought his power and his handling, because he's very good technically. His biggest challenge will be to do the same from the start of the game. We have no doubt over his potential."

Fit-again Brice Dulin comes in for Scott Spedding, while the last major change made by Saint-André was to hand Morgan Parra a starting spot at scrum-half, with Rory Kockott injured.

"Morgan is still very young but has more than 50 caps. He was our starter in Australia then he got injured. He's coming back well. He and Camille (Lopez) know each other because they play together at club level. He's experienced and knows the highest level and that can only help the team.

"I want Camille to continue improving, to not put too much pressure on himself and mix up the game. He has a lot of talent and has worked really hard over the last few seasons. 

"The coaching team and the players have a lot of faith in him, he'll start his sixth game in a row. The final decision (on the place-kicker) will be taken on Friday, but there's a good chance it will be Camille."