Rugby World Cup 2011
Harinordoquy rejects 'B team' claims
ESPNscrum Staff
September 21, 2011
France back-rower Imanol Harinordoquy speaks to the media, Auckland, New Zealand, September 21, 2011
Harinordoquy has been named on the bench for the clash with New Zealand © Getty Images

Imanol Harinordoquy has mocked claims that France have deliberately selected a weakened team for Saturday's big World Cup group clash with New Zealand.

The French have been heavily criticised in the local press, who have accused coach Marc Lievremont of trying to engineer an easier route to the final by losing to the All Blacks. Much of the discussion centres on the selection of Morgan Parra at fly-half for what will be his first Test start in the position.

However, many big names have been included in a strong XV - among them captain Thierry Dusautoir, scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili and winger Vincent Clerc.

"People are saying this is a France B team but there is no such thing. There is only the France XV," said Harinordoquy, the 31-year-old No.8 who has been named on the bench. "We have changed our team for each of the two games in the World Cup so far and now the coach has made his choice for this game. The first choice is evolving.

"There is a polemic going on from certain sections of the press. Who are they to say what is the strongest French team? It is not their decision. This is a very strong French selection and I am disappointed not to make the XV, but I am determined to make an impact when I come off the bench."

Of the 22 selected by Lievremont, 14 have finished on a winning side against New Zealand with six having beaten the All Blacks twice.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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