Rugby union: Sébastien Chabal back as France look to put brake on Australia

Sébastien Chabal, a substitute in France's past two Tests, has been recalled to the starting line-up against Australia

Sébastien Chabal, Sale's talismanic No8, has been recalled to France's starting line-up this weekend as Les Bleus look to halt this month's domination of European national teams by touring southern hemisphere sides.

Chabal, an impact substitute in France's past two Tests, replaces Romain Millo-Chluski at lock while Sébastien Tillous-Borde comes in at scrum-half for the injured Jean-Baptiste Élissalde for Saturday night's meeting with Australia at Stade de France. They are the only two changes to the side that started the 42-17 victory over the Pacific Islanders last weekend. Australia, who have already beaten Italy and England, play Wales on Saturday week and round off their tour with a game against the Barbarians at Wembley.

Fulgence Ouedraogo is retained in France's back row, leaving Montpellier team-mate Louis Picamoles on the bench, while Sale's Lionel Faure beat off competition from fellow prop Fabien Barcella to keep his place in the front row. David Skrela has shrugged off a minor knock to retain the No10 shirt for the third game in succession. Tillous-Borde scored a try against the Islanders after coming on as an 18th-minute replacement for Elissalde, who was knocked out following a dreadful tackle by Napolioni Nalaga that earned the Fiji wing a red card.

The France coach, Marc Lièvremont, said: "Romain Millo-Chluski has played two sets of 80 minutes, with two good displays. That said, Séb [Chabal] had played excellently when he has come on and we have more cohesion with two weeks of work. Sébastien has qualities in the scrum that you can't ignore, and he also perhaps has more freshness in his legs."

Australia have made three changes in their pack after the 28-14 win over England at Twickenham. The prop Ben Alexander replaces Benn Robinson to earn his third cap while Dean Mumm comes into the back row, pushing Hugh McMeniman, who started as a flanker against England, into the second row instead of Mark Chisholm. Wycliff Palu is recalled at No8 in place of Richard Brown, who injured his knee at the weekend, returning to the starting line-up for the first time since injuring the medial ligament in his knee against New Zealand in Brisbane in September. Australia's Stirling Mortlock will this weekend play his 75th Test, and will be tied with Jason Little as the 10th most-capped Wallaby in history.

The Ireland forwards Paul O'Connell, Rory Best and Alan Quinlan have been included in an extended squad for their vital encounter with Argentina at Croke Park. The Munster lock O'Connell and Ulster hooker Best suffered dead legs in the 22-3 defeat by New Zealand and are battling to prove their fitness for Saturday. With crucial ranking points on the line against Argentina, the Ireland head coach, Declan Kidney, has chosen to delay his team announcement until tomorrow morning. Quinlan's citing for stamping against the All Blacks has further complicated matters, although the combative Munster back row still features in the 28. His disciplinary hearing will take place in Dublin tonight.

France: Medard (Toulouse); Malzieu (Clermont-Auvergne), Jauzion (Toulouse), Baby (Clermont-Auvergne), Heymans; Skrela (both Toulouse), Tillous-Borde (Castres); Faure (Sale), Szarzewski (Stade Français), Mas (Perpignan), Nallet (Castres, capt), Chabal (Sale), Dusautoir (Toulouse), Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Harinordoquy (Biarritz). Replacements: Lecouls (Toulouse), Kayser (Leicester), Millo-Chluski (Toulouse), Picamoles (Montpellier), Tomas (Bourgoin), Traille (Biarritz), Palisson (Brive).

Australia: Ashley-Cooper (ACT Brumbies); Hynes (Queensland Reds), Cross (Western Force), Mortlock (ACT Brumbies, capt), Mitchell; Giteau (both Western Force), Burgess (NSW Waratahs); Alexander (ACT Brumbies), Moore (Queensland Reds), Baxter (NSW Waratahs), McMeniman (Queensland Reds), Sharpe (Western Force), Mumm (NSW Waratahs), Smith (ACT Brumbies), Palu (NSW Waratahs). Replacements: Polota-Nau, Kepu (both NSW Waratahs), Chisholm (ACT Brumbies), Pocock (Western Force), Cordingley, Cooper, Ioane (Queensland Reds).


Ian Malin

The GuardianTramp

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