Laporte recalls old warriors for All Black test

30th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

AUCKLAND, May 29, 2007 (AFP) - France coach Bernard Laporte recalled veterans Christian Califano, Olivier Magne and Thomas Castaignede to the starting line-up for the first Test with New Zealand at Eden Park here on Saturday.

AUCKLAND, May 29, 2007 (AFP) - France coach Bernard Laporte recalled veterans Christian Califano, Olivier Magne and Thomas Castaignede to the starting line-up for the first Test with New Zealand at Eden Park here on Saturday.

Laporte has had to take a seriously under strength squad to New Zealand because the top four French clubs are involved in the French championship play-offs - which has been heavily criticised by All Blacks coach Graham Henry for poor scheduling.

Laporte decided not to start with the squad captain Raphael Ibanez and said he would probably not begin the second Test either atfer a long season both internationally and with his club Wasps, climaxing with the European Cup victory over Leicester.

Second row forward Pascal Pape - due to join Stade Francais next season- skippers the side instead.

"It was logical to make someone captain, who played in the Six Nations," said Laporte.

"Therefore the choice was between Pape and Castaignede (who sat out the tournament because of injury but stayed with the squad at their base in Marcoussis).

"We preferred Pascal because a forward is closer to the play."

The France coach selected five new caps lock Julien Pierre, backrow forward Gregory Le Corvec, his Perpignan clubmate and scrum-half Nicolas Durand, winger Benjamin Thiery and centre Arnaud Mignardi.

Laporte, who retires from the post after the World Cup later this year which France are hosting, said there was no pressure on the result because the All Blacks - who start with 10 of the XV that beat France 23-11 last November in Paris - were such a strong side.

"We need to play with a lot of heart, hunger and application in all areas.

"If we are good in those areas then we will be able to compete.

"The match is not without importance as there are still places up for grabs in the World Cup squad."

For Califano it is quite a comeback having resurrected his career at English Premiership side Gloucester.

The 35-year-old prop has not added to his 69 caps for the national side in four years, while 34-year-old Magne won the last of his 86 caps in the 2006 Six Nations and Castaignede, 32, missed out on adding to his 52 caps because of injury costing him a place in the November tests and the Six Nations.

Both Califano - a two-time Grand Slam winner with France and the first Frenchman to play in the Super 12 tournament with the Auckland Blues - four-time Grand Slam winner Magne, Ibanez and Castaignede - who subsequently withdrew because of injury - were members of the 1999 World Cup squad which sensationally beat hot favourites The All Blacks in the semi-finals.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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