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France trim squad, release seven

23rd January 2014 05:29

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Mathieu Bastareaud L and centre Maxime Mermoz

In, out: Bastareaud, Mermoz

France have reduced their squad to 23 players ahead of facing England next weekend, with Maxime Mermoz one of seven to miss out.

Mermoz has been released along with Sebastian Vahaamahina, Virgile Bruni, Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Jules Plisson, Geoffrey Palis and Hugo Bonneval.

The cuts leave Castres star Rémi Talès as the only recognised fly-half option in the squad, with Toulouse's Jean-Marc Doussain likely to start at scrum-half but provide cover at ten.

Pascal Papé will captain the side following the withdrawal of Thierry Dusautoir, who will miss the tournament through injury.

By only picking nine backs, of which seven will obviously start, France have offered an early indication that they will select a six-two split on the bench favouring their forwards.

France play England in Paris on February 1.

"We don't start with the starter, but with the 'Rosbif', so with the main course!" said France coach Philippe Saint-André.

"It's always a huge game against England and the atmosphere will be special.

"The Six Nations is a fantastic event especially when France play against England.

"Some people don't have a clue about rugby, but each year they sit in front of the TV to watch France against England. It's about history."

Forwards: Thomas Domingo (Clermont), Yannick Forestier (Castres), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing-Métro), Nicolas Mas (Montpellier), Rabah Slimani (Stade Français), Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Français), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Papé (Stade Français, captain), Bernard Le Roux (Racing-Métro), Antoine Burban (Stade Français), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse).

Backs: Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse), Maxime Machenaud (Racing-Métro), Rémi Talès (Castres), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Gaël Fickou (Toulouse), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Maxime Médard (Toulouse), Brice Dulin (Castres).

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