French coach Phillipe Saint-Andre has surprisingly left out stalwart and captain Thierry Dusautoir for the first Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.
The 2011 IRB World Player of the Year and veteran of 65 Tests for the French, looked set to start after missing the entire Six Nations due to a torn bicep sustained during a Top 14 clash and despite returning for Toulouse for the final two matches of the season, Saint-Andre felt he needed more time to recover.
Pascal Pape stood in as captain for the injured Dusautoir during the Six Nations however the giant second-rower has been left at home for a well earned break, leaving the experienced prop forward Nicolas Mas the responsibility of leading the side for the first Test.
In another surprise, Frederic Michalak gets the recall at fly-half despite getting limited opportunities as the understudy to Jonny Wilkinson at Toulon.
Michalak on his day is a playmaker of highest quality and considering he has world class flair outside him in the shape of Wesley Fofana and Yohann Huget, it could turn out to be a masterstroke by the former French winger Saint-Andre.
Damien Chouly has been rewarded with the number 8 jersey in place of the powerful Louis Picamoles after a superb season for his club Clermont, while Bernard Le Roux replaces Dusautoir on the side of the scrum in an untested loose forward trio.
France have only tasted success in Australia on 4 occasions since their first Test in 1928 with their last win coming back in 1990 when they won 28-19 in Sydney.
France: 15-Hugo Bonneval, 14-Yohann Huget, 13-Gael Fickou, 12-Wesley Fofana, 11-Felix Le Bourhis, 10-Frederic Michalak, 9-Maxime Machenaud; 8-Damien Chouly, 7-Bernard Le Roux, 6-Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5-Yoann Maestri, 4-Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3-Nicolas Mas (captain), 2-Guilhelm Guirado, 1-Thomas Domingo.
Bench: 16-Christopher Tolofua, 17-Vincent Debaty, 18-Rabah Slimani, 19-Alexandre Flanquart, 20-Antoine Burban, 21-Morgan Parra, 22-Remi Lamerat, 23-Brice Dulin.
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