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France Recall Heavy Hitters For All Blacks

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Marseille, Nov 24 NZPA - They don't breeze in until Friday, but France sounded an early warning by naming what All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith labelled their toughest rugby opponents of 2009.

Coach Marc Lievremont made seven changes to the team that defeated world champions South Africa 20-13 in Toulouse nearly a fortnight ago as he recalled some heavy artillery for Sunday's (NZT) test here.

The pack was beefed up by hardman Sebastien Chabal at lock, and the recall of prop Sylvain Marconnet and loose forwards Fulgence Ouedraogo and Julien Bonnaire.

"They've brought back some experience... they're as a good a team as we've come across all year," Smith said.

Also recalled for France were centres Yannick Jauzion and David Marty, and Maxime Medard on the wing.

Maxime Mermoz, Imanol Harinordoquy and Louis Picamoles were all ruled out due to injury.

It meant 11 of the starters who toppled the All Blacks 27-22 in Dunedin would return, with the obvious absence of disgraced centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

Damien Traille moves to fullback after starting at second five-eighth in Dunedin while Medard moves from fullback to wing.

France have based themselves at their state-of-the-art training centre outside Paris and don't fly south to Marseille until Friday, which raised some All Blacks eyebrows.

"It's not something we'd be allowed to do, and not something we'd probably want to do," Smith said.

"Part of our responsibility is to our commercial partners and supporting them in the areas we go, make sure we're doing promotions, and promoting the game is a product of that as well.

"That's our way and hopefully because we're here, we might get a bit of support..."

The All Blacks will wear white jerseys on Sunday -- rather than the grey they wore in the 2007 World Cup quarterfinal defeat -- so as not to clash with France's dark blue.

There was still some confusion over what colour jerseys France would wear, with some mischievous suggestions they may switch to a lighter shade of blue to irk the tourists.

It would be too late for the All Blacks to switch back to black jerseys.

Said Smith: "It's black or white now, isn't it? For me, you should be black on the inside, it doesn't matter what colour you play in. The jersey doesn't do it for you."

France: Damien Traille, Vincent Clerc, David Marty, Yannick Jauzion, Maxime Medard, Francois Trinh-Duc, Julien Dupuy, Julien Bonnaire, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Romain Millo-Chluski, Sebastien Chabal, Sylvain Marconnet, William Servat, Fabien Barcella. Reserves: Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas, Lionel Nallet, Julien Puricelli, Morgan Parra, Yann David, Cedric Heymans.

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