Lièvremont regrets 'clumsy' outburst but still makes five changes to team

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The Independent Online

France coach Marc Lièvremont has admitted his regret at an outburst following Saturday's defeat by Italy in which he suggested several players may not play for Les Bleus again. Lièvremont gave a scathing assessment the day after the 22-21 loss in Rome, saying he was "ashamed" and felt "betrayed" by his players.

He also dropped six players from the squad, including Sébastien Chabal, and stated some had played their last international games. However, as he unveiled a team with five changes to it for France's Six Nations finale against Wales in Paris, Lièvremont showed a measure of contrition.

Lièvremont said: "I regret my comments on the international decline of some. It was clumsy of me."

Nevertheless, Lièvremont has performed substantial surgery on his team. Among the changes, David Marty and Damien Traille forge a new centre partnership instead of Aurélien Rougerie and Yannick Jauzion.

Brive wing Alexis Palisson is preferred to Bayonne's Yoann Huget, Clermont Auvergne prop Thomas Domingo takes over from Sylvain Marconnet and Biarritz number eight Imanol Harinordoquy is recalled. Jauzion, Huget, Marconnet and Chabal are all casualties of Lièvremont's post-Rome cull.

Clermont Auvergne captain Rougerie's absence is due to a disciplinary hearing he faces today following an incident which happened while playing for his club. Palisson will start on the left wing with Vincent Clerc on the right. France will go into the Wales game striving to avoid a third defeat in this season's Six Nations. That has not happened to Les Bleus since 2001.

Wales have confirmed they will be without Shane Williams, who suffered a cruciate knee ligament in the victory over Ireland. The wing is due to retire from international rugby after this year's World Cup.

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