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France captain a non-starter for 1st test

June 4, 2014

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — France captain Thierry Dusautoir won’t play in the first rugby test against Australia on Saturday because of his ongoing recovery from a left arm injury.

Coach Phillipe Saint-Andre left Dusautoir out of the team on Wednesday for the series opener in Brisbane.

Dusautoir, the 2011 world player of the year, underwent left arm surgery after tearing his bicep during the French Top 14, and is still regaining full power.

Saint-Andre also rested players who were involved in last weekend’s Top 14 final between Toulon and Castres.

Bernard Le Roux was included in the back row for Dusautoir, who will return for the second test next week in Melbourne.

Frederic Michalak will start at flyhalf after arriving in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Michalak was left out of Toulon’s 23-man side for the club decider but remained in France to watch Jonny Wilkinson and Australian Matt Giteau lead their team to the championship.

With first-choice five-eighth Remi Tales playing for Castres, Saint-Andre was also considering whether to play halfback Morgan Parra at No. 10 for the first time since the 2011 World Cup final.

But Saint-Andre told Australian Associated Press he was confident Michalak would overcome jet lag and three weeks without a game.

“When we picked the team, he was in good form. He played in three straight big games for Toulon in place of Jonny Wilkinson,” Saint-Andre said. “That is the reality of French rugby.”

The third test will be in Sydney on June 21.

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France: Hugo Bonneval, Yohann Huget, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Felix Le Bourhis, Frederic Michalak, Maxime Machenaud; Damien Chouly, Bernard Le Roux, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Yoann Maestri, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Nicolas Mas, Guilhelm Guirado, Thomas Domingo. Reserves: Christopher Tolofua, Vincent Debaty, Rabah Slimani, Alexandre Flanquart, Antoine Burban, Morgan Parra, Remi Lamerat, Brice Dulin.

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