Tour of Australia: France travel to Brisbane for first Wallabies Test
Last Updated: 06/06/14 6:09pm
Australia will seek revenge for their 2012 Parisian reverse on Saturday as they take on France at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in the first of a three-Test series.
The 33-6 triumph at the Stade de France that November was a first win over the Wallabies in seven years for the hosts, with Louis Picamoles and Wesley Fofana both touching down while Frederic Michalak added 15 points via the boot.
It was a rare slip for Australia who have won 23 of the 42 meetings between the nations, including a run of five successive victories between 2008 and 2010.
Australia endured a difficult 2013 season as they lost a Test series against the British and Irish Lions before winning just two matches as they finished third behind New Zealand and South Africa in The Rugby Championship, but Ewen McKenzie believes they are in a stronger position this year.
"We function in a performance environment and so it's important to reward those who have consistently played at a high level over the course of the season," said McKenzie, who replaced Robbie Deans as head coach following the 2-1 defeat to the Lions.
"This year we're in a particularly strong position whereby so many of our players have been performing well for their provinces.”
France’s Six Nations campaign suggested their battle to discover consistency is rumbling on following victories against England and Italy before losing to Wales and Ireland, although Saint-Andre believes it is Australia who will suffer from the weight of expectation.
"We don't have any pressure at all, we just have a go and enjoy the moment Saturday," said Saint-Andre.
Queensland scrum-half and former Wallabies captain Will Genia has been axed from McKenzie’s squad for the first Test at in his home region.
Genia is omitted in favour of Nic White, who forms a new-look half-back pairing with Bernard Foley, while Phipps will cover off the bench.
Another former skipper, James Horwill, and the versatile Kurtley Beale have to settle for a place on the bench, with Sam Carter handed his debut.
Wycliff Palu and James Slipper both win their 50th caps, while Stephen Moore will captain the side for the first time.
There has also been controversial omissions from Saint-Andre, with France captain Thierry Dusautoir left out of the opening Test while none of the Toulon or Castres that contested last weekend’s Top 14 final feature.
Flanker Dusautoir featured for Toulouse in their final two games of the season after recovering from a biceps injury but head coach Saint-Andre says he is “still not 100 per cent”.
Picamoles is another surprise absentee, with Damien Chouly preferred at No 8, where he will join Bernard Le Roux and Fulgence Ouedraogo in an experimental back row.
Toulon’s Frederic Michalak, left out of the Top 14 final in favour of the retiring Jonny Wilkinson, returns at fly-half while Gael Fickou partners Fofana in midfield.
Saint-Andre has also named 34-year-old prop Nicolas Mas as captain for the first time as France seek their fifth win Down Under and a first victory over the Wallabies in Australia since 1990.
Australia: 15 Folau; 14 Ashley-Cooper, 13 Kuridrani, 12 Toomua, 11 Cummins; 10 Foley, 9 White; 1 Slipper, 2 Moore (capt), 3 Kepu; 4 Simmons, 5 Carter; 6 Fardy, 7 Hooper; 8 Palu
Replacements: 16 Polota-Nau, 17 Cowan, 18 Ryan, 19 Horwill, 20 McCalman, 21 Phipps, 22 Beale
France: 15 Bonneval; 14 Huget, 13 Fickou, 12 Fofana, 11 Le Bourhis; 10 Michalak, 9 Machenaud; 1 Domingo, 2 Guirado, 3 Mas (capt); 4 Vahaamahina, 5 Maestri; 6 Ouedraogo, 7 Chouly; 8 Le Roux
Replacements: 16 Tolofua, 17 Debaty, 18 Slimani, 19 Flanquart, 20 Burban, 21 Parra, 22 Lamerat, 23 Dulin
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