Lievremont looks for stability


  INTERNATIONAL NEWS:FRANCE HEAD coach Marc Lievremont admits there are unlikely to be many surprises in his squad for the forthcoming Six Nations Championship.


Lievremont will name a provisional 30-man party on January 21st before trimming it down to 23 a week later ahead of their opening match against Ireland in Dublin on February 7th.

The former Test flanker chose to experiment and rotate the players in his squad in his first year in charge, but he went with his tried and tested for the November internationals, which saw France beat Argentina and the Pacific Islanders but lose to Australia.

Lievremont does not envisage making too many changes to that group for the Six Nations.

“I believe we need a little bit of stability,” he said. “To get into the current France team, you have to show a lot more than the players who are there now, especially those who were there in the autumn Tests.

“For the moment, there is not a great turnover expected or the mass of newcomers that was the case for the 2008 Six Nations.” He added: “Today, there is more knowledge of our strengths than there was a year ago. We are a little less fuzzy.”

Meanwhile, Andrea Lo Cicero said he was disgusted yesterday after being told by journalists that coach Nick Mallett had omitted him from Italy’s pre-Six Nations training camp in Rome at the end of this month.

The prop, who has 78 caps and has taken part in all of the Azzurri’s Six Nations campaigns since their debut in 2000, was left out along with hooker Carlo Festuccia, his team-mate at French second division club Racing Metro Paris. “I heard that I have not been called up from journalists, not from someone at the (Italian rugby) federation and, to be honest, it disgusts me,” he said. “I would have expected to be treated differently.

“What’s more, given that my exclusion was a technical decision, I don’t see how they have assessed me, as none of the technical staff have been to see me and Festuccia play with Racing, who are top of the standings.”

A 30-man Italy squad will train in Rome from January 25th to January 29th before Mallett names a squad of 24 to meet six days before their Six Nations opener against England at Twickenham on February 7th.