France coach Marc Lievremont has made five changes from the side that beat Canada 46-19 for their vital Rugby World Cup Pool A clash with hosts and favourites New Zealand on Saturday.
The French haven’t been at their fluent best so far, despite taking the maximum 10 points on offer, and Lievremont has decided to freshen things up ahead of such a crucial contest.
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The winner of the weekend’s encounter will likely top the group and face an ‘easier’ quarter-final tie – probably against Argentina or Scotland – and there will be an electric atmosphere inside the famous Eden Park arena in Auckland.
Morgan Parra, who held the number 10 shirt for the final quarter of their opening win over Japan, takes over from Francois Trinh-Duc at fly-half and Aurelien Rougerie switches to centre with Maxime Medard back on the wing.
Elsewhere, Dimitri Yachvili returns at scrum-half, captain Thierry Dusautoir at flanker and Lionel Nallet at lock.
Dimitri Szarzewski is preferred to William Servat at hooker, while Imanol Harinordoquy also has to settle for a place on the bench with Louis Picamoles and Julien Bonnaire joining Dusautoir in the back row.
The most significant change concerns Parra, who kicked 23 points against the Canucks, making his first start at fly-half in his 32nd Test for the Europeans.
For the Kiwis, Dan Carter, who is fit again after missing the All Blacks’ win over Japan, is set to line up opposite Parra and that will be one battle to look out for.
It has been well documented that New Zealand haven’t quite been at their best so far and there is much hope as far as they are concerned that Carter could be the difference between become World Champions and missing out on glory.
You can catch the game at 09:30 BST this Saturday and with it being the first real clash between two sides with genuine ambitions of winning the famous trophy, it promises to be an intriguing contest.