Toulouse utility back Maxime Medard was the only uncapped player named by coach Marc Lievremont on Tuesday in a 23-strong squad for the autumn Test international against Argentina at Marseille on November 8.
The 22-year-old winger-cum full-back, who was coached by present French backs coach Emile Ntamack and scrum coach Didier Retiere when he was part of the side crowned world Under-21 champions in 2006, is one of seven Toulouse players in the mix following a run of fine performances for his club this season.
Also back in the picture for the first time under Lievremont since he took over from Bernard Laporte after last year’s World Cup are Stade Francais flyhalf Lionel Beauxis and Clermont centre Benoit Baby.
There was a place also for Sale forward Sebastien Chabal who was left out of the last Six Nations tournament but who won his way back to favour during the summer tour of Australia. Chabal is one of three English-based players in the squad.
Lievremont, a former France flanker who was in the side that lost to Australia in the 1999 World Cup final having sensationally defeated favourites New Zealand in the semi-finals, said the time for wholesale changes was over and it was now time to settle on certain players.
He had been accused of disrespect towards the Six Nations tournament — an accusation he said was baseless — when he had made wholesale changes to the squad for every match.
"We wanted to work with a more closely-defined squad than in the past," confessed Lievremont. "We want to work on the basics, whether it be in defence or in the attacking game, and to select certain senior players in key positions.
"Obviously the target is to win all three matches."
Medard was given rave reviews by Lievremont, who earned his coaching spurs at Dax.
"It has been clear to everyone this season that Maxime has been playing really well at fullback for Toulouse," said Lievremont. "He is a player that we know well and whom Didier and Emile knew from the under-21 days. "We always believed he would become a player of the highest level."
Beauxis – who won the last of his 12 caps in the 2007 World Cup third place match defeat to Argentina – capped 12 times earns his first call-up under Lievremont following a series of impressive performances by the 23-year-old for Stade this season which saw them win their first seven championship matches and two European Cup games before losing to Toulouse last Saturday.
"We have seen him to be technically very impressive this season," commented Retiere. "His passing technique and in attacking the line makes him a particularly interesting player because his breadth of game is very big."
The French open their autumn campaign against the Pumas before going on to play the Pacific Islands select and Australia.
Forwards: (13): Lionel Faure (Sale/ENG), Fabien Barcella (Biarritz), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Franais), Benjamin Kayser (Leicester/ENG), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Benoit Lecouls (Toulouse), Lionel Nallet (Castres, capt), Sebastien Chabal (Sale/ENG), Romain Millo-Chluski (Toulouse), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Louis Picamoles (Montpellier), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz)
Backs (10): Morgan Parra (Bourgoin), Jean-Baptiste Elissalde (Toulouse), Vincent Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Lionel Beauxis (Stade Franais), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Benoit Baby (Clermont), Alexis Palisson (Brive), Cedric Heymans (Toulouse), Maxime Medard (Toulouse), Julien Malzieu (Clermont)
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