France hint at dropping Michalak for England trip

PARIS Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:54pm GMT

France's Frederic Michalak (L) is tackled by Italy's Francesco Minto during their Six Nations rugby match at the Olympic stadium in Rome February 3, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

France's Frederic Michalak (L) is tackled by Italy's Francesco Minto during their Six Nations rugby match at the Olympic stadium in Rome February 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

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PARIS (Reuters) - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has hinted that flyhalf Frederic Michalak may be dropped when they visit England with a revamped team in their next Six Nations match.

France were beaten 16-6 at home by holders Wales on Saturday, a week after defeat in Italy, and are bottom of the standings with two opening losses for the first time since 1982.

"There certainly will be some changes," Saint-Andre, who is due to name his 23-man squad on Monday, told a news conference on Sunday.

"We accept our responsibilities. When you lose the two matches, it's because you made mistakes. So we are going to try to find some solutions."

The most significant change could be the axing of 30-year-old Michalak, who shone when France crushed Australia in November but produced poor performances in Rome and against Wales.

"You can see that it becomes hard for him from the 60th minute," Saint-Andre said. "He is tired, both physically and mentally."

Michalak, who played his first game for France in two years last June, joined French league leaders Toulon in the off-season after a year at South African side the Sharks.

Should Michalak be dropped, Saint-Andre would start Francois Trinh-Duc in the flyhalf position, with Morgan Parra set to replace Maxime Machenaud at scrumhalf because France would need him to take on the kicking duties against England on February 23.

Saint-Andre ruled out recalling experienced internationals like winger Aurelien Rougerie or back-row forward Imanol Harinordoquy.

"I stick to my philosophy," he said. "I will call up those who have a chance to be there in 2015 if they play at the same level."

(Reporting by Jean-Paul Couret; Writing by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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