France coach Philippe Saint-André has explained his decision to leave tour captain Thierry Dusautoir out of the team to face Australia on Saturday.
PSA unveiled a surprise lineup for the first Test against the Wallabies with Dusautoir given more time to return to full fitness after long layoff due toa biceps injury.
Saint-André named Montpellier's 34-year-old prop Nicolas Mas as captain for the first time.
"Thierry is still not 100 percent after his biceps injury," in January, Saint-André said Wednesday.
"We preferred to give him another week to fully recover because we need players at 100 percent."
Dusautoir had nonetheless returned to top level competition with Toulouse in early May to play the last two games of the season.
Rated among the best flankers in the game, he won the 2011 IRB Player of the Year award .
In another surprise, the powerful Louis Picamoles was also left out and Damien Chouly given the number eight jersey.
Clermont's Chouly will line up in an experimental back row with Bernard Le Roux and Fulgence Ouedraogo.
Toulon's Frederic Michalak returns at fly-half for the first time since France toured Australia a year ago, despite only arriving on Tuesday.
"We don't have any pressure at all, we just have a go and enjoy the moment Saturday," said Saint-André said.
France have not won in Australia for 24 years and Saint-André has said victory over the third-ranked Wallabies would be psychologically important for them 15 months before the World Cup.