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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 11:13 GMT
Merceron dropped by France
Francois Gelez will win his seventh cap against Scotland on Sunday
Francois Gelez will win his seventh cap against Scotland on Sunday
France have replaced stand-off Gerald Merceron with Francois Gelez for Sunday's Six Nations encounter with Scotland.

Saracens prop Christian Califano has also been relegated to the bench in the only other change to the team beaten by England on Saturday.

Califano is dropped in place of Stade Francais tighthead Sylvain Marconnet as the latest stand-in for Pieter De Villiers, who remains ruled out after a positive drugs test.

Merceron endured a nightmare with the boot at Twickenham, kicking just two points in the 25-17 defeat.

Gerald has to remotivate himself and I'm not sure he trains as much as he should
France coach
Bernard Laporte

As a result, coach Bernard Laporte has elected to hand 24-year-old Gelez his seventh cap this weekend at the Stade de France.

The Agen fly-half played in the autumn Tests against New Zealand and South Africa.

And he said of his recall: "It's an opportunity for me to try to get a good run in the position and one I will try to take with both hands."

Laporte believes Merceron has the edge as a hard-running ball-carrier but is prepared to give Gelez at least a couple of matches to prove himself the better man with the boot.

"If we had scored the ten points we missed [through Merceron's wayward kicking], we would have won the game at Twickenham," Laporte said.

"Gerald has to remotivate himself and I'm not sure he trains as much as he should.

"This is a key position," the French coach added. "We need to find a goal-kicker if we are to win the World Cup."

Laporte added that Califano had been dropped as a consequence of his failure to make an impact in the loose.

"I was a bit disappointed by Califano's general performance at Twickenham and particularly by his tackling and rucking performances," he said.

"Califano is a loosehead prop and was a bit uncomfortable in the tighthead slot.

"But Pieter de Villiers tackles between 10 and 15 times during a game," Laporte added.

"Califano made three tackles at Twickenham. It's as simple as that."

France: C Poitrenaud; A Rougerie,
X Garbajosa, D Traille, V Clerc; F Gelez,
F Galthie (capt); J-J Crenca, R Ibanez,
S Marconnet, F Pelous, O Brouzet, S Betsen,
O Magne, I Harinordoquy.
Replacements: J-B Rue, C Califano, D Auradou, S Chabal, D Yachvili, G Merceron,
T Castaignede.

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