France take on a high-flying Canadian team in the late Pool A game tonight in Napier, 8.15pm local time. France will look to refine their play against the minnows after a sloppy performance against Japan saw them rely on a final quarter blitz to run away with a competitive game. Canada, fresh from upsetting Tonga 25-20 in an intelligent performance in Whangarei, will look to cause similar problems to the French to continue momentum ahead of a match against the Japanese. France need to produce a statement of intent before a critical match against hosts New Zealand in a game that will be judged on the size of the score-line rather than the result.
Marc Liévremont has made 12 changes to the side that were frustrated by the Japanese in an apparent rotation policy that sees captain Thierry Dusatoir left out of the side altogether. Nippy scrum-half Morgan Parra returns to the starting line-up, after surprisingly starting from the bench against Japan, and will look to spark a backline that retains the services of Francois Trinh-Duc, Aurelien Rougerie and Vincent Clerc. Seven changes give the pack a totally new look, with Willam Servat the only forward starting his second consecutive game at hooker.
Despite a short, four day turnaround Canada fields the same 22 players that shocked Tonga in Whangarei, with no changes to the run-on side. This may play into French hands after the fitness of Les Blues shone through in the final quarter against Japan; conversely the Canadians have a very settled side – the same XV also started against the Australian Barbarians in the prelude to the Cup. Canada played smart rugby against Tonga and will look for more of the same against the unpredictable French.
Players to watch:
Francois Trinh-Duc retains his spot at fly-half and needs a resounding performance alongside Morgan Parra to inspire the undoubted quality in the French back-line.
Jamie Cudmore plys his trade in France for Clermont but turns out for Canada internationally; look for a big effort from the physical Canadian.
France: 15 Damien Traille, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 David Marty, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Aurélien Rougerie (c), 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Romain, Millo-Chluski, 4 Pascale Papé, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 William Servat, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux Poux.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Fabien Barcella, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Imanol Harinordoquy, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 Fabrice Estebanez, 22 Maxime Médard.
Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Ciaran Hearn, 13 DTH van der Merwe, 12 Ryan Smith, 11 Phil Mackenzie, 10 Ander Monro, 9 Ed Fairhurst, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 Chauncey O’Toole, 6 Adam Kleeberger, 5 Jamie Cudmore, 4 Jebb Sinclair, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Pat Riordan (c), 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Hamilton, 17 Scott Franklin, 18 Tyler Hotson, 19 Nanyak Dala, 20 Sean White, 21 Nathan Hirayama, 22 Conor Trainor.