Experienced fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc will miss the World Cup after he was surprisingly omitted from the France squad announced by coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Sunday.
The 28-year-old — who played an influential role for France at the 2011 World Cup when they lost 8-7 to New Zealand in the final — lost out to unpredictable veteran Frederic Michalak, who played in Saturday’s win over England, and Remi Tales.
Trinh-Duc, capped 50 times since being blooded by Marc Lievremont in 2008, had found it difficult to impose himself under Saint-Andre and a serious injury last season ruled him out of contention for this season’s Six Nations.
He was given a chance to prove himself worthy of a spot in the first game against England a week ago — a 19-14 defeat at Twickenham — but evidently failed to convince Saint-Andre and his coaching staff.
“It is a choice which has been made not only after seven weeks but also after three years of life with the squad,” said Saint-Andre, who also cited Trinh-Duc’s lack of accuracy at placekicking.
For Michalak, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday during the tournament, it represents his third World Cup, having first made an impression at international level during the 2003 edition in Australia
Despites concerns over his fitness and form, Saint-Andre has kept faith with the 72-times capped playmaker.
In contrast to the fly-half position Saint-Andre has selected three scrum-halves, in Morgan Parra — who was Lievremont’s favoured number nine alongside Tinh-Duc for much of his reign — South Africa-born Rory Kockott and Michalak’s clubmate Sebastien Tillous-Borde.
Both Parra and Kockott are adept placekickers.
The side will be captained, as it was in 2011, by 33-year-old flanker Thierry Dusautoir, whose outstanding performances at the last tournament earned him the world player of the year accolade.
Saint-Andre, who steps down after the World Cup, also cut prop Xavier Chiocci, lock Sebastien Vahaamahina, backrow forward Yoann Goujon and centre Remi Lamerat.
France, who have one more warm-up match against Scotland on September 5 at the Stade de France, open their campaign to try and secure the trophy for the first time — they have lost three times in the final — against Italy on September 19 at Twickenham.
France will also play Six Nations champions Ireland, Romania and Canada in the pool stage of the tournament that runs from September 18 to October 31.
Forwards (17): Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Eddy Ben Arous (Racing Metro), Vincent Debaty (Clermont), Nicolas Mas (Montpellier), Rabah Slimani (Stade Français), Guilhem Guirado (Toulon), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing Metro), Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Français), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Pape (Stade Français), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Bernard Le Roux (Racing Metro), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)
Backs (14): Rory Kockott (Castres), Morgan Parra (Clermont), Sebastien Tillous-Borde (Toulon), Frédéric Michalak (Toulon), Rémi Tales (Racing Metro), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Alexandre Dumoulin (Racing Metro), Gaël Fickou (Toulouse), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Brice Dulin (Racing Metro), Sofiane Guitoune (Bordeaux-Begles), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Noa Nakaitaci (Clermont), Scott Spedding (Clermont)
– Agence France-Presse