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Six Nations: Bastareaud back for France attack on England

Mathieu Bastareaud returns to the France rugby team after missing the opening game against Wales.
Mathieu Bastareaud returns to the France rugby team after missing the opening game against Wales. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

France rugby union coach Jacques Brunel on Friday recalled the veteran defender Mathieu Bastareaud for the side's match against England on Sunday in the Six Nations tournament.

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Bastareaud was not included in the squad for the opening match in the competition in Paris against Wales on 1 February.

France raced into a 16-0 half-time lead. But, capitalising on a flurry of French errors, Wales stormed back to take the Test 24-19.

Brunel said Bastareaud's inclusion was aimed at countering England's physical strength.

Ballast

"We know the impact he will have," said Brunel."Against the power they have in midfield which has been strengthened by Manu Tuilagi he can have an interesting impact.

"Bastareaud is important for the team as a whole. It's important that he starts because he's an important option to face England," he added.

With 50 caps, Bastareaud's omission and a debut for 19-year-old Romain Ntamack were the most salient features of Brunel's thinking for the Wales clash.

Ntamack will begin the match at Twickenham on the bench along with Paul Willemse who also made his debut for France against Wales.

Geoffrey Doumayrou will replace the injured Wesley Fofana.

Bastareaud and Doumayrou were Brunel's starting midfield partnership for six of 11 games last year including the 22-16 Six Nations victory over England in Paris.

"I'm 30. I've learned to be above the idea of being vengeful," said Bastareaud. "Choices were made. You can like them or dislike them. But you have to accept them," he said.

"We're going to England without much to lose because everyone thinks we're going to get thrashed. We have to go there and try things. It's up to us to go there and cause problems."

Brunel's other changes include a debut for 20-year-old Demba Bamba in the scrum instead of the injured Uini Atonio. Yacouba Camara and Gael Fickou will also feature in the starting line-up.

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