Bastareaud recall strategic – PSA

Date published: February 7 2013

France coach Philippe Saint-André insists that he was not punishing Florian Fritz by dropping him in favour of Mathieu Bastareaud.

France coach Philippe Saint-André insists that Mathieu Bastareaud's selection for Saturday's clash against Wales was not a reflection Florian Fritz's performance in Italy.

The Toulouse centre's relegation to the bench is one of just two changes to the team that was upset in Rome with Jocelino Suta coming into the second-row for injured skipper Pascal Papé.

Bastareaud's inclusion at 13 means that France will have an all-Toulon midfield with Frederic Michalak at 10, Maxime Mermoz at 12.

Michalak and scrum-half Maxime Machenaud have shouldered the majority of blame for a disjointed performance last weekend but have been retained in what Saint-André has admitted is a “second chance” for a number of his players.

“You say you don't change a winning team. Well, we say we don't change a losing team. The players need to bounce back,” Saint-André told reporters.

“We keep this group so we can find collective solutions, not individual solutions.

“After that defeat we will see the true nature of this group. We will see what it is. I look forward to Saturday.

“I was angered by the (Italy) game. This will be a second chance for everyone.

“The 16 balls that we lost – Florian did not lose them all,” he said.

“The change is strategic because it allows us a connection between 10-12-13 with players who are all at the same club.

“It is better for the understanding of the team and they will be better able to defend against the Welsh.

“Florian will be back for sure at some point and will give this team punch.”

24-year-old Machenaud admitted he had feared for his position after last week's loss and is now determined to repay Saint-André's faith.

“Whether you win or lose after you play only an average game you are always afraid of losing your place,” said the Racing Metro scrum-half.

“Yes, sure (it is a second chance). Philippe Saint-André is not changing the group which is proof of the confidence he is giving us.

“Now we will have to be worthy of this second chance.”