Michalak set for surprise return as Saint-Andre considers five changes


Frédéric Michalak is set for a surprise return to the French starting team in place of François Trinh-Duc as, against all previous expectations, head coach Philippe Saint-André may make up to five changes this morning when he announces his side to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Even though the introduction of Michalak, along with a few other replacements, seemed to backfire in their defeat at Twickenham two weeks ago, Saint-André and his staff were apparently unhappy with aspects of Trinh-Duc’s defensive game as well as his failure to convert a couple of overlaps.

In addition to the anticipated return of Maxime Medard, possibly at fullback rather than wing, for the omitted Benjamin Fall, it is also likely that Florian Fritz will return to the midfield in place of Mathieu Bastareaud.

Up front, the tired-looking Nicolas Mas could make way for Luc Ducalcon, while Sébastien Vahaamahina, the 120kg 21-year-old Perpignan lock whose one cap was off the bench in last November’s win over Australia, is expected to replace Christophe Samson.

FRANCE (possible): Medard, Clerc, Fritz, Fofana, Huget; Michalak, Parra; Domingo, Kayser, Ducalcon, Maestri, Vahaamahina, Nyanga, Dusautoir, Picamoles. Replacements: Szarzewski, Debaty, Mas, Samson, Claassen, Machenaud, Trinh-Duc, Bastareaud.

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