Elvis makes a comeback

After three years in the domestic wilderness, Clermont No 8 Elvis Vermeulen returns to the French side for this Saturday’s game against the All Blacks.

Vermeulen had previously struggled with his fitness and conditioning, but after fighting his way back in the Top 14 this season, the French management have decided to give him another go. This call-up is also due to the injury to first choice No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy.

Prior to this game, Vermuelen has only represented the Tricolores in three matches, the first being against South Africa in 2001 and the last being against New Zealand in 2003.

“We had him in the squad before because we thought he had great potential, but he failed to live up to our expectations then. Now, we want to give him a second chance,” said French coach Bernard Laporte.

A worry for Laporte will be the lack of a quality back-up to flyhalf Damien Traille, who himself only first played in this position against the Springboks this June. Both Freddie Michalak and Thomas Castaignède are out injured, and so Traille was the automatic choice at 10.

France: 15 Julien Laharrague, 14 Aurelien Rougerie, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 Christophe Dominici; 10 Damien Traille, 9 Dimitri Yachvilli, 8 Elvis Vermeulen, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Pascal Pape, 4 Fabien Pelous (c), 3 Pieter de Villiers, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Sylvain Marconnet. Replacements: 16 Raphael Ibanez, 17 Olivier Milloud, 18 Lionel Nallet, 19 Remy Martin, 20 Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, 21 David Marty, 22 Cedric Heymans.

New Zealand: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So’oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Ali Williams, 4 James Ryan, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Anton Oliver, 1 Tony Woodcock.