- Replacements to feature six forwards
- Jean-Marc Doussain rewarded for Toulouse form
Photo: Getty Images
France coach Phillipe Saint-André has loaded his 23-man squad with size ahead of England's visit to Paris for the RBS 6 Nations opener on February 1 (kick-off 5pm GMT).
Naming just nine backs in the party to face Stuart Lancaster's side, Saint-André will deploy six forwards among the replacements – cleary anticipating a tight, tough tussle up front.
Given a tournament-ending chest injury to skipper Thierry Dusautoir, Stade Francais' uncapped flanker Antoine Burban – exceptional in the Top 14 this season – has been drafted in, and is likely to provide cover from the bench.
Lock Pascal Pape is to lead France and is set to with his 50th Test cap against England, probably alongside 119-kilogram Yoann Maestri of Toulouse.
In the backline, versatile Jean-Marc Doussain is selected as an option at scrum half, although he may wear the number 10 shirt and partner Racing Metro's Maxime Machenaud, leaving Francois Trinh-Duc, a late injury call-up for Remi Tales, on the bench.
Burly Mathieu Bastareaud and electric pair Gael Fickou and Wesley Fofana make up the centre options, with Yoann Huget, Maxime Medard and Brice Dulin sure to be announced as the back three.
France matchday squad to face England
Forwards: Thomas Domingo (Clermont), Yannick Forestier (Castres), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing-Métro), Nicolas Mas (Montpellier), Rabah Slimani (Stade Français), Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Français), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Papé (Stade Français, captain), Bernard Le Roux (Racing-Métro), Antoine Burban (Stade Français), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse).
Backs: Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse), Maxime Machenaud (Racing-Métro), Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Gaël Fickou (Toulouse), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Maxime Médard (Toulouse), Brice Dulin (Castres).