x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Chabal to start at flanker

Sebastien Chabal will return to the French back row for Sunday's Six Nations showdown with England at Twickenham.

Sebastien Chabal will return to the French back row for Sunday's Six Nations showdown with England at Twickenham. The Sale Sharks forward has spent most of the season in the second row but he has been named at flanker by Marc Lieveremont. "He is a versatile player," Lievremont said of Chabal. "He can play in both departments with just as much success. And he will be up against players he knows well."

Lievremont has beefed up his pack by bringing in Lionel Faure and Jerome Thion, who has spent the last year in the international wilderness, while Francois Trinh-Duc starts at fly-half in place of Benoit Baby, who injured a knee in the win over Wales. Mathieu Bastareaud keeps his place at centre alongside Yannick Jauzion, despite the return from suspension of Florian Fritz. Scrum-half Morgan Parra will again assume the kicking duties and will be partnered by Trinh-Duc, the young Montpellier fly-half back in favour with Lievremont.

The Parra/Trinh-Duc axis was France's half-back combination when they lost at home to England in last season's Six Nations. England's discipline has been found wanting in their opening three matches of the tournament, especially in the defeat to Ireland in their last tournament outing. But Lievremont maintained it was not his intention to send his team out to provoke the English at Twickenham. "This is not one of our strategies. It has not been mentioned in our chats," he added.

"I have seen there has been a certain form of media pressure on the referees from the England staff. I hope the referee does not submit to this pressure." * PA