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Page last updated at 09:43 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Clerc & Palisson in France team for Ireland clash

Venue: Stade de France Date: Saturday, 13 February Kick-off: 1630 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and online; Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; Live text commentary and score updates on BBC Sport website

France wing Vincent Clerc
Clerc won his 40th French cap when coming off the bench against Scotland

France have made two enforced changes to their side for Saturday's crunch RBS Six Nations match against defending champions Ireland in Paris.

Vincent Clerc of Toulouse and Brive's Alexis Palisson come in on the wings following injuries to Aurelien Rougerie and Benjamin Fall against Scotland.

Palisson, who has five caps, was preferred to Clermont's Julien Malzieu.

On the bench, prop Sylvain Marconnet takes over from Luc Ducalcon, who was also injured in the win at Murrayfield.

Clerc replaced Rougerie with just four minutes played of Sunday's 18-9 victory over Scotland.


Rougerie suffered a neck injury after being involved in two heavy tackles in the opening exchanges, and could be sidelined for several weeks.

The trio join lock Sebastien Chabal, full-back Damien Traille, prop Fabien Barcella, scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and lock Romain Millo-Chluski on the injured list, while scrum-half Julien Dupuy is banned for eye-gouging.

Palisson, 22, made a try-scoring debut for France in the defeat by Australia in June 2008 but has not played for his country since appearing as a replacement in the loss to the Wallabies in November of the same year.

France wing Alexis Palisson
Palisson has not started a Test for France since July 2008

"There was no problem about bringing in Vincent Clerc but there was some discussion about the left wing," said France coach Marc Lievremont.

"In the end we went for the versatility of Alexis Palisson with his defensive capabilities and his kicking.

"Considering the kicking game the Irish have, his left foot can help us clear our lines. We need more variety in our game, more territorial kicking.

"We must adapt to the Irish defence. They are very well organized, they know when to slow the play down, so we will have to bring more width to our game."

Outside centre Mathieu Bastareaud will go head-to-head with Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll after his impressive return to the Test arena with two tries against Scotland.

With France and Ireland installed as favourites for the title, Saturday's match at the Stade de France could be a key moment in deciding the destination of this year's championship.

Ireland have an attention to detail and a pragmatism that reminds me of Australia

France coach Marc Lievremont

Ireland beat the French 30-21 in Dublin last year to kick-start their Grand Slam campaign but have won only once in Paris in 38 years, in 2000.

Despite a laborious opening win over Italy, Lievremont believes Ireland will "come to Paris with a huge appetite" and insists France will "have to raise the bar a lot higher" to win.

"They're an impressive team," the coach added. "They have an attention to detail and a pragmatism that reminds me of the Australian team.

"They are less spectacular than Wales or the All Blacks but play an incredibly efficient game, and they have conceded the least penalties in the Six Nations for some time now."

France team: Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse); Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Mathieu Bastareaud (Stade Francais), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Alexis Palisson (Brive); Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Morgan Parra (Clermont); Thomas Domingo (Clermont), William Servat (Toulouse), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Lionel Nallet (Racing Metro), Pascal Pape (Stade Francais), Thierry Dusautoir (capt, Toulouse), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz).
Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Francais), Julien Pierre (Clermont), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont), Frederic Michalak (Toulouse), David Marty (Perpignan), Julien Malzieu (Clermont).

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see also
Earls handed start against France
09 Feb 10 |  Irish
Scotland 9-18 France
07 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
O'Driscoll frustrated after win
06 Feb 10 |  Irish
Ireland 29-11 Italy
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union

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