Italy v France, Six Nations, Stadio Olimpico
Dusautoir returns for Italy clash
ESPN Staff
February 1, 2013
France skipper Thierry Dusautoir takes the attack to the All Blacks, New Zealand v France, Rugby World Cup Final, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 23, 2011
Toulouse flanker Thierry Dusautoir missed the autumn internationals with a knee injury and saw the captaincy pass to lock Pascal Pape © PA Photos
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Former captain Thierry Dusautoir will make his long-awaited return from injury in France's Six Nations opener against Italy on Sunday.

The Toulouse flanker, who steered France to the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, has not appeared for his country since last year's Six Nations having been rested for the summer tour of Argentina and then sidelined for the autumn international with a serious knee injury.

The 2011 IRB Player of the Year has since seen the captaincy pass to lock Pascal Pape but having recently regained his fitness has been handed a recall at the expense of Yannick Nyanga for the Stadio Olimpico clash in one of six changes to the side that started the 22-14 victory over Samoa in November.

Yoann Huget comes in for the injured Brice Dulin at fullback while Benjamin Fall gets nod on the left wing with Vincent Clerc also sidelined through injury. Maxime Machenaud is preferred at scrum-half with Morgan Parra dropping to the bench while loose-head Yannick Forestier and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski come in for Thomas Domingo and Benjamin Kayser respectively.

Fulgence Ouedraogo moves to the blindside flanker berth to make way for Dusautoir while Frederic Michalak retains the No.10 jersey after impressing in the autumn despite playing his club rugby for Toulon at scrum-half.

"When we drew the 33-man list, Thierry Dusautoir was not playing with Toulouse so we had to wait until his last two European Cup and Top 14 games (to assess his form)," said coach Philippe Saint-Andre said.

"We wanted to see him during three days. We saw during his preparation that he had worked a lot while he was injured. In Italy, we will need to defend a lot, so we will need his experience and his ferocity."

Saint-Andre is also wary his side do not slip up as they did on their last visit to Rome when Italy secured a shock 22-21 victory. "France were the favourites against Italy two years ago," he said. "It was a tsunami. We will have to be focused on this game now. We have won four matches in a row, let's make it five."

France: Yoann Huget; Wesley Fofana, Florian Fritz, Maxime Mermoz, Benjamin Fall; Frederic Michalak, Maxime Machenaud; Yannick Forestier, Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape (captain), Yoann Maestri, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Thierry Dusautoir, Louis Picamoles.

Replacements: Benjamin Kayser, Vincent Debaty, Luc Ducalcon, Romain Taofifenua, Damien Chouly, Morgan Parra, Fran├žois Trinh-Duc, Mathieu Bastareaud.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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