Six Nations
Lopez centre of France v Clermont battle
ESPN Staff
March 20, 2015
Camille Lopez sits out Saturday's match against England © Getty Images

France fly-half Camille Lopez has been at the centre of a club v country tug-of-war with Clermont winning the battle.

Lopez injured his knee in last Sunday's win over Italy and was substituted at half-time. The original prognosis predicted Lopez would be a doubt for the match against England but he was in full training with France on Wednesday. All the signs pointed towards him retaining his spot at fly-half.

But Lopez has previous with knee injuries having had surgery on his cruciate ligament in 2013. To France coach Philippe Saint-Andre's frustration, Lopez's potential involvement in Saturday's match against England was questioned by Clermont which led to his withdrawal.

"At the end of Wednesday, Clermont's medical staff decreed that Camille needs to rest for four to six weeks," Saint-Andre said on Thursday. "He had trained without any problems. We spoke to Camille at the end of the day and then he had doubts. I need players who have no doubts. Camille didn't have any on Wednesday morning. Then he had some and he was worried on Wednesday evening.

"Clermont considered he needed rest. The Clermont doctor [made his decision] without examining him, just from the X-ray images we sent him because we are transparent with the clubs. So Camille is returning to Lyon to see the specialist who operated on him. I want only players who are 100 per cent in their head. They have to be ready for what is there for us at Twickenham."

Later on Thursday Clermont responded to Saint-Andre's comments with sporting director Jean-Marc Lhermet telling RMC: "It's not the reality," he said. "The clubs have no power of the national teams. If France want to play a player, whether the club likes it or not, the player will play.

"I don't understand his position. The medical staff at Clermont don't decide anything over whether a player plays for France or not. The club's medical staff don't decide a thing. Camille is injured, that's why he isn't playing. I don't understand this position. Camille is injured and that's why he's not keeping him.

"We had a lot of trouble getting access to Camille Lopez's medical file. We've only received a few shots yesterday, but we'd been trying since Monday to find out what our player was suffering from. It's surprising because we've been trying since Monday to find out what state our player is in. There was a form of obstruction to give us the scans taken by the French medical staff."

With Lopez absent, Plisson starts on Saturday against England with Remi Tales on the bench. For Plisson, he has been handed an unexpected chance to shine and he is keen to prove his ability to the watching coaches.

"We could see at training sessions that Camille was supposed to start the game, but we switched positions a lot at training so that doesn't change anything for me," Plisson said. "I have to prove to the coaches they were not wrong picking me."

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