France recall Parra for All Blacks encounter

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France recall Parra for All Blacks encounter
Ireland's Dave Kearney (centre) and France's Noa Nakaitaci (left) and Morgan Parra fight for an aerial ball on Sunday. - AFP

Newport - Kiwis make three changes to team that lost to Ireland


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Published: Fri 16 Oct 2015, 4:52 PM

Last updated: Sat 17 Oct 2015, 12:40 PM

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has recalled flyhalf Morgan Parra and dropped burly center Mathieu Bastareaud for the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against New Zealand on Saturday, making three changes from the lineup that lost 24-9 to Ireland last weekend.
The loss to Ireland meant that France finished in second place in Pool D, and so faced the All Blacks rather than Argentina at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
"We're ready for a huge combat against New Zealand, we will need to improve in the rucks and take a lot more individual initiative," Saint-Andre said. "If we want to beat New Zealand we have to play the French way." The other main change sees Bastareaud dropped in favor of Alexandre Dumoulin, while Bernard Le Roux replacing Damien Chouly at No. 8.
Since taking over from Marc Lievremont after the 2011 World Cup, Saint-Andre has earned a reputation for constantly changing his lineup. But he had been remarkably consistent in his selections during this tournament - until now. Parra, a regular in the team that reached the World Cup final four years ago, replaces Sebastien Tillous-Borde, who has been flyhalf Frederic Michalak's regular halves partner during this tournament.
"Why Morgan? Everyone knows him, he's a great competitor," Saint-Andre said Thursday. "We know that he has leadership qualities." Tillous-Borde drops out of the squad, with Saint-Andre preferring to have Rory Kockott on the bench as backup because of his kicking ability. "We weren't happy with our bench against Ireland, they didn't do enough," Saint-Andre said. Despite being only 26, Parra stands to win his 66th Test cap - 12 of those in World Cups.
Parra started against New Zealand in the 2011 final, which the All Blacks won 8-7, but started in an unfamiliar role as flyhalf. He was sent to the blood bin early on, came back on and was then ultimately replaced by Francois Trinh-Duc midway through the first half.
Parra, who is a tough tackler despite his relatively small stature, offers France an extra option with his reliable kicking.
With Parra on the field, Saint-Andre effectively has three potential penalty kickers, along with Michalak and fullback Scott Spedding, who usually takes the long-range penalty kicks for France. Saint-Andre also appears to have given Parra a chance to redeem himself for a sloppy performance when he came on against Ireland last weekend.

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