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France opt for experience as World Cup squad unveiled

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre at a training session at France's National Centre of Rugby in Marcoussis on March 11, 2015
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre at a training session at France's National Centre of Rugby in Marcoussis on March 11, 2015 AFP / Franck Fife

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has named veteran Toulon flyhalf Frederic Michalak and Montpellier flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc in his provisional 36-man squad for this year's World Cup.

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Flyhalf Michalak was recalled after he was dropped at the end of last year's tour to Australia. He was picked ahead of Camille Lopez for the reliability of his kicking, Saint-Andre said.

Trinh-Duc, a fan favourite who was injured during this year's Six Nations, also returned to the squad.

Saint-Andre opted to go for experience, picking Racing Metro hooker Dimitri Szarzewski and Stade Francais lock Pascal Pape. The team will be captained by Toulouse's Thierry Dusatoir.

"Some players will be disappointed. We decided to go for experience," Saint-Andre told reporters on Tuesday.

"We have a young team especially at the backs, but with the post of flyhalf we picked experience that can handle the pressure of the World Cup."

One surprise exclusion was Racing Metro winger Teddy Thomas, who has not sufficiently recovered from injury suffered in the Six Nations.

France, who lost the World Cup final to hosts New Zealand by a point in 2011, open their campaign against Italy at Twickenham on Sept. 19. They will reduce the squad to 31 on Aug. 23.

Forwards: Uini Atonio, Eddy Ben Arous, Xavier Chiocci, Vincent Debaty, Nicolas Mas, Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado, Benjamin Kayser, Dimitri Szarzewski, Alexandre Flanquart, Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Thierry Dusautoir, Bernard Le Roux, Yannick Nyanga Kabasele, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Damien Chouly, Loann Goujon, Louis Picamoles

Backs: Rory Kockott, Morgan Parra, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Frederic Michalak, Remi Tales, Francois Trinh-Duc, Mathieu Bastareaud, Alexandre Dumoulin, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Remi Lamerat, Brice Dulin, Sofiane Guitoune, Yoann Huget, Noa Nakaitaci, Scott Spedding

(REUTERS)

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