Dusautoir and Bastareaud in French squad
Updated: Friday, 11 Jan 2013 12:12
France have recalled former captain Thierry Dusautoir and centre Mathieu Bastareaud to the preliminary squad for their first Six Nations championship game in Italy next month.
Manager Philippe Saint-Andre stuck mainly with the squad who thrashed Australia then beat Argentina and Samoa in the November internationals when he named 33 players on Friday, all of them with previous experience.
"We added young players and in-form ones, like Mathieu Bastareaud, to the squad which was named for the November tour," Saint-Andre told a news conference.
Bastareaud, who has nine caps for France and last played when they beat England in the Six Nations in March 2010, was widely expected to be included after his strong performances with his club Toulon, who are top of the French Top 14.
The 24-year-old had been overlooked in recent years because of poor form.
"He has made huge efforts, he has regained his punch, his pace. He's one of the high-potential players and it's important to show that everyone can make the squad," Saint-Andre said.
Flanker Dusautoir has returned from a knee injury which sidelined him for the November tests but will not take back the captain's armband as the coach wants him to focus on his recovery.
"We want to give Thierry enough time to come back at his best," the French boss added.
"We want him to care about himself first, for once. He's returning from a serious injury, we know him as a man and as a player, and we want him to fully recover."
Dusautoir, the 2011 IRB World player of the year, has captained the team since 2009 but was rested for France's tour of Argentina in June then missed the November tests, while Pascal Pape successfully replaced him in the role.
France, who finished the Six Nations in a disappointing fourth place for Saint-Andre's first competition in charge, visit Italy on Feb. 3 and host title-holders Wales at Stade de France the following week.
France provisional Six Nations squad:
Forwards : Vincent Debaty, Thomas Domingo, Yannick Forestier, Benjamin Kayser, Guilhem Guirado, Dimitri Szarzewski, David Attoub, Luc Ducalcon, Nicolas Mas, Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape (captain), Jocelino Suta, Romain Taofifenua, Damien Chouly, Thierry Dusautoir, Wenceslas Laurey, Yannick Nyanga, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Louis Picamoles.
Backs : Maxime Machenaud, Morgan Parra, Frederic Michalak, Francois Trinh-Duc, Mathieu Bastareaud, Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Vincent Clerc, Brice Dulin, Benjamin Fall, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Florian Fritz, Yoann Huget, Maxime Mermoz.