Versatile Palisson gets the nod
France coach Marc Lievremont pointed to Alexis Palisson's versatility as the key to the Brive winger's selection to face Ireland.
Last Updated: 10/02/10 5:45pm
France coach Marc Lievremont pointed to Alexis Palisson's versatility as the key to the Brive winger's selection to face Ireland on Saturday.
Palisson was given the nod ahead of Julien Malzieu for the clash in Paris, as Lievremont made only two enforced changes to the team that beat Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday.
Vincent Clerc and Palisson - who won the last of his five caps in November 2008 - are called in for the injured Aurelien Rougerie and Benjamin Fall, who were both forced to pull out on Tuesday.
"The choice of Vincent Clerc didn't cause any debate," said Lievremont. "It was a bit more difficult to choose between Alexis Palisson and Julien Malzieu.
"The versatility of Alexis, who can also play at full-back, made the difference. Against Ireland we also thought that Palisson's kicking could be an advantage.
"He will be very useful to release us and will be a good support for Clement Poitrenaud."
Lievremont reckons Grand Slam champions Ireland will be a much stiffer test than the Scots last week.
"We have to give a lot more than against Scotland," he added. "We'll have to cover the entire pitch to counteract their kicking and the centres will have to be aggressive.
"But we have forewarned the lads they will have to be impeccable in protecting the ball.
"Ireland were a losing team for a long time, against all expectations considering the talent and their players.
"But now they have a taste for victory. They make me think of Australia, although with a less polished game."
Backs coach Emile Ntamack believes how France deal with Irish midfield pairing Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy could prove crucial.
He said: "Their two centres are formidable. They are instinct players who can play in all styles.
"It's up to this new generation to show them that they can be at their level."