Austin Healey knows that tomorrow's meeting with France gives him his last chance to win a call-up for the World Cup. With the England coach, Clive Woodward, adamant that Healey is being considered solely as a scrum-half, the 29-year-old finds himself in direct competition with Matt Dawson, Kyran Bracken and Andy Gomarsall.
"I was always worried that this day wouldn't come," he said yesterday. "When you are injured, you have good days and bad days. It is a while since I played, so I've been waiting for this day for a long time. Everyone who plays well in these games [England also meet France at Twickenham on Saturday week], will have a good chance of making the squad. But you've got to be on top form."
France will field a strong line-up at Stade Velodrome in Marseille. The France coach, Bernard Laporte, has fulfilled his pledge to play an impressive team. Nicolas Brusque comes in at full-back for the injured Pepito Elhorga. The captain, Fabien Galthié, is named in the starting line-up at scrum-half despite the injury that prevented him from taking a full part in training on Wednesday. Yannick Bru gets a run-out at hooker as Raphael Ibanez is relegated to the replacements.
FRANCE (v England, Marseille, Saturday, 8pm BST): N Brusque (Biarritz); A Rougerie (Montferrand), Y Jauzion (Toulouse), D Traille (Pau), C Dominici (Stade Français); F Michalak (Toulouse), F Galthié (Stade Français, capt); J-J Crenca (Agen), Y Bru (Toulouse), S Marconnet (Stade Français), F Pelous (Toulouse), J Thion (Perpignan), S Betsen (Biarritz), O Magne (Montferrand), I Harinordoquy (Pau). Replacements: R Ibanez (Saracens), O Milloud (Bourgoin), D Auradou (Stade Français), S Chabal (Bourgoin), P Tabacco (Stade Français), X Garbajosa (Toulouse), B Liebenberg (Stade Français).
ENGLAND: I Balshaw (Bath); J Lewsey (Wasps), O Smith (Leicester), M Tindall (Bath), B Cohen (Northampton); P Grayson (Northampton), A Healey (Leicester); G Rowntree (Leicester), D West (Leicester, capt), J White (Leicester), S Borthwick (Bath), D Grewcock (Bath), M Corry (Leicester), L Moody (Leicester), A Sanderson (Sale). Replacements: S Thompson (Northampton), J Leonard (Harlequins), S Shaw (Wasps), A Hazell (Gloucester), A Gomarsall (Gloucester), D Walder (Newcastle), J Noon (Newcastle).
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