Chabal back as depleted France prepare for Aussie tour
France have recalled Sebastien Chabal among their depleted rugby squad named on Monday for a two-Test tour of Australia in June.10 June 2008
TOULOUSE - France have recalled Sale powerhouse Sebastien Chabal among their depleted squad named on Monday for a two-Test tour of Australia later this month.
The back row player has been out of favour with new coach Marc Lievremont since the last World Cup when he attained cult hero status among French rugby fans for his dynamic play and hirsute appearance.
The then coach Bernard Laporte stood down after France's loss to England in the semi-finals of the competition and Lievremont discarded Chabal to test out new players during this year's Six Nations competition.
But with several top players unavailable because of the climax to the French Top 14 club championships, he has been brought back in to lend some much-needed experience to a largely untested 26-strong squad.
"It wasn't easy," admitted Lievremont. "We've had a lot of discussions since the end of the (Six Nations) tournament, regarding the calendar, the fact that we were leaving without the (Top 14) semi-finalists and that all the players were coming off a tough season."
But Lievremont added: "I wouldn't go so far as to say either that it's a second-string list, far from that.
"Despite the difficulties and the special circumstances we're determined to show our enthusiasm and to really go to Australia to challenge and to win."
Also brought back were utility back Pepito Elhorga of Bayonne and Mathieu Lievremont of Dax.
In all Lievremont will take 11 uncapped players to Australia where they will play two Test matches against the Wallabies at Sydney on 28 June and Brisbane on 5 July.
"I wasn't expecting this call-up at all," admitted Toulouse centre Maxime Mermoz, 21, who earned his first call-up to the national side.
"I think the good impression I made during the under-21 World Cup went in my favour," he said.
"I know this tour will be very difficult but it will allow me to raise my game and will give me a taste of the top level. It's the best way to progress."
Forwards (14): Lionel Faure (Sale/ENG), Pierre Correia (Albi), Benjamin Kayser (Leicester/ENG), Sebastien Bruno (Sale/MENG), Renaud Boyoud (Dax), Benoit Lecouls (Biarritz), Sebastien Chabal (Sale/ENG), David Couzinet (Biarritz), Lionel Nallet (Castres, capt), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Mathieu Lievremont (Dax), Yannick Caballero (Montauban), Louis Picamoles (Montpellier), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz)
Backs (12): Sebastien Tillous-Bordes (Castres), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), Benjamin Boyet (Bourgoin), Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Thibault Lacroix (Albi), Maxime Mermoz (Toulouse), Damien Traille (Biarritz), Alexis Palisson (Brive), Benjamin Thiery (Biarritz), Pepito Elhorga (Bayonne), Jean-Baptiste Peyras (Bayonne), David Janin (Bourgoin)
[AFP / Expatica]