In particular the coach has realised, 15 months after Didier Camberabero was injured during the World Cup, that he cannot yet do without the 32-year-old stand- off who has contributed so many of France's points - 332 in 33 matches - in recent years.
Camberabero's selection alone is enough to give England more pause for thought than has tended to be necessary, though there is one surprise: the inclusion of Thierry Lacroix instead of Franck Mesnel at centre. 'They actually seem to have picked their best players this time,' Geoff Cooke, the England manager, said. 'They have normally helped us enormously by leaving players out or doing odd things.'
The Rugby Football Union has changed its mind about awarding caps when England play the United States and Canada during the summer. Too many Englishmen are expected on the Lions tour of New Zealand at the same time for caps to be credible.
Ieuan Evans, the Wales captain, was told to rest for three weeks after his hamstring injury had been examined at the Lanzarote training camp yesterday. This will leave him with only Llanelli's game against Aberavon on 30 January to prove his fitness before England play in Cardiff a week later.
After playing South Africa in November, England have been deleted from next year's Springbok tour, which now includes Scotland as well as Wales.
FRANCE: J-B Lafond (Begles); P Saint-Andre (Montferrand), P Sella (Agen), T Lacroix (Dax), P Hontas (Biarritz); D Camberabero (Beziers), A Hueber (Toulon); L Armary (Lourdes), J-F Tordo (Nice, capt), L Seigne (Merignac), A Benazzi (Agen), O Roumat (Dax), P Benetton (Agen), M Cecillon (Bourgoin), L Cabannes (Racing Club). Replacements: J Cazalbou (Toulouse), F Mesnel (Racing Club), S Ougier (Toulouse), E Melville (Toulon), S Graou (Auch), F Landreau (Grenoble).Reuse content