The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

France makes just 1 change for team to face Wales in 6N with flanker Laurent in for Le Roux

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PARIS - France's new-look team is starting to take shape as the wins pile up, with just one enforced change to the unbeaten team for what is a decisive match away to defending Six Nations champion Wales on Friday.

A win at Millennium stadium will set France on course for a widely unexpected title and Grand Slam following the embarrassment of last year's wooden spoon and some sloppy performances in a miserable 2013.

The switch sees Wenceslas Lauret in at flanker for his Racing Metro teammate Bernard Le Roux, who was concussed during the 30-10 win against Italy two weeks ago after hitting Alberto de Marchi's knee in a tackle. That win came after a dramatic 26-24 win against England in the opening game.

"We know how the Welsh play, along with New Zealand they are the most attacking team behind the lineouts," Saint-Andre said. "They know how to keep the ball, they like settling into long passages of play that are more than two minutes long. So we need back-rowers who can harry and tackle. Wenceslas Lauret is a logical choice. He played against New Zealand and South Africa last November."

France has three changes on the bench. The uncapped Brice Mach comes in at hooker for the injured Benjamin Kayser, and prop Vincent Debaty has been called up as cover at tighthead with Rabah Slimani suspended and Luc Ducalcon injured.

Flyhalf Remi Tales returns from injury as Francois Trinh-Duc drops out of the squad.

"We know how strong the Welsh are. They attack the flyhalf's zone with their powerful centres," Saint-Andre said. "That's why we chose to put a flyhalf (Tales) on the bench, because it's going to be very tough in that zone."

Saint-Andre chose to keep lock Sebastien Vahaamahina on the bench, despite his physical prowess. He was critical of Vahaamahina after he was sin-binned moments after coming on for Pascal Pape against the Italians in the second half.

"I had an honest discussion with him," Saint-Andre said. "He knows what he has to do. He's strong, quick and explosive. If he comes on on Friday, I hope he stays longer than one-and-a-half minutes on the field."

But with a centre pairing that features the destructive running of Wesley Fofana and the heavy tackling of Mathieu Bastareaud, France's midfield battle with Welsh Lions Jamie Roberts and George North promises to be intense.

After a scrappy first half, Fofana turned the game against the Italians, scoring one brilliant try with a run from deep and helping to create another one. Fofana is happy to take on more responsibility in Saint-Andre's team.

"A few years ago I just had to catch the ball and run with it. Now I try to be a creator and a finisher," Fofana said. "My role is to speak to the threequarters and to the forwards. Most importantly, that has forced me to open up to others and I take pleasure in doing it. I have been with the team a while now, I know the systems in place, I know where we want to get to."

___

France: Brice Dulin, Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval, Jules Plisson, Jean-Marc Doussain; Louis Picamoles, Wenceslas Lauret, Yannick Nyanga, Pascal Pape (captain), Yoann Maestri, Nicolas Mas, Dimitri Szarzewski, Thomas Domingo. Reserves: Brice Mach, Yannick Forestier, Vincent Debaty, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly, Maxime Machenaud, Remi Tales, Gael Fickou.

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