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De Villiers Back in French Side

De  Villiers Back in French Side

03/04/02: In the only change to the side, from the one that defeated Scotland, French coach Bernard Laporte has recalled prop Pieter de Villiers for the Grand Slam clash with Ireland in Paris.

An ankle injury forced the Stade Francais player to miss the trip to Scotland last month but he returns now to face the Irish as his team attempt to secure the Lloyds TSB Six Nations championship and their first clean sweep since 1998.

.”Pieter had played club and country games without a break since the start of the season and I think that an enforced three week break has done him a power of good,” said Laporte. (pictured)

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De Villiers clubmate, David Auradou also missed the 22-10 triumph in Murrayfield and is forced to sit on the bench as Laporte keeps faith with second-row pairing Fabien Pelous and Olivier Brouzet.

France will be led by their inspirational skipper Fabien Galthie.who won the man of the match award against the Scots. And his side will start as odds-on favourites.

Will the fact that Ireland have beaten France for the past two seasons, be a factor? Irish coach Eddie O’Sullivan believes it will.
Yes, for two reasons. One is the French will not take Ireland lightly anymore. If you think about it, in four years they’ve had two close ones and two losses so I think the French will give us due respect as we’ve proven our worth. And secondly, I think it’s a much better French side than it was last year and the year before and there’s a grand slam on the line. So none of that makes it any easier.

If France do slip up, it would allow England the chance to snatch the championship with victory against Italy in the final match of the competition in Rome on Sunday.

France. Nicolas Brusque; Aurelien Rougerie, Tony Marsh, Damien Traille, David Bory; Gerald Merceron, Fabien Galthie (captain); Imanol Harinordoquy, Olivier Magne, Serge Betsen, Olivier Brouzet, Fabien Pelous, Pieter de Villiers, Raphael Ibanez, Jean-Jacques Crenca.

Replacements: 16-Olivier Azam, 17-Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18- David Auradou, 19-Remy Martin, 20-Pierre Mignoni, 21-Francois Gelez, 22-Jimmy Marlu.