PARIS, March 7 (Reuters) - Flyhalf Frederic Michalak will start for France when they visit Ireland in the Six Nations rugby championship on Saturday, manager Philippe Saint-Andre said on Thursday.
Michalak’s return is one of three changes made to the team who lost 23-13 in England, their third defeat in as many games in the competition.
With Morgan Parra confirmed in the scrumhalf position for the Dublin game, France will start with a third different pairing of halves as they look for inspiration and experience.
Centre Florian Fritz is back in the number 13 position at the expense of Mathieu Bastareaud, who has a minor injury and will sit on the bench.
Versatile back Maxime Medard, who has not played for France since he injured his knee in last year’s Six Nations match against Scotland, will start on the left wing.
“Frederic (Michalak) has not played much in the past three weeks. He found some freshness, his sensations are very good,” Saint-Andre told a news conference.
“If you look at the last eight games, he started six of them so, yes, he’s the number one choice as flyhalf,” he added. “It’s natural to start him in Ireland.”
France, who have endured their worst start since 1982 in the competition, seek a first victory after the defeats in Italy, at home against Wales and in England.
They host Scotland in their final game next week.
Team: 15-Yoann Huget, 14-Vincent Clerc, 13-Florian Fritz, 12-Wesley Fofana, 11-Maxime Medard, 10-Frederic Michalak, 9-Morgan Parra, 8-Louis Picamoles, 7-Thierry Dusautoir, 6-Yannick Nyanga, 5-Yoann Maestri, 4-Christophe Samson, 3-Nicolas Mas, 2-Benjamin Kayser, 1-Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16-Guilhem Guirado, 17-Vincent Debaty, 18-Luc Ducalcon, 19-Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20-Antonie Claassen, 21-Maxime Machenaud, 22-Francois Trinh-Duc, 23-Mathieu Bastareaud. (Reporting by Gregory Blachier. Editing by Clare Fallon)