France captain Mathieu Bastareaud has been left out of the side for the third test against the All Blacks in Dunedin by coach Jacques Brunel, with Wesley Fofana joining Clermont team mate Remi Lamerat in a new midfield combination.
Scrumhalf Morgan Parra will lead the side in Bastareaud’s absence. He is the third captain in Brunel’s tenure after Guilhem Guirado was left at home to rest.
French media said on Tuesday that the 29-year-old Bastareaud would be missing from the side. The bullocking centre had played 30 games for his club Toulon and for France this season and Brunel had long planned to give him a rest, Midi Olympique reported.
Brunel’s desire to see Fofana, who has not played a test in 18 months, and Lamerat play together at international level was also a factor, the newspaper said.
Lamerat started at centre during the first games of this year’s Six Nations tournament, but was one of several players reportedly sanctioned by France’s rugby federation for a night out drinking following their 32-26 loss to Scotland.
Geoffrey Doumayrou, who played both of the first two tests with Bastareaud, injured his ankle in the second, a 26-13 loss in Wellington.
Montpellier fullback Benjamin Fall, sent off last week after a mid-air collision with Beauden Barrett, was selected after a disciplinary panel rescinded the red card.
Brunel made just two other changes to the 23-man match day squad, who were impressive in the Wellington defeat and had the All Blacks stretched, despite playing almost 70 minutes with a man down.
Adrien Pelisse comes onto the bench as reserve hooker for Pierre Bougarit, while Felix Lambey replaces Paul Gabrillagues as cover at lock.
Team: 15-Benjamin Fall, 14-Teddy Thomas, 13-Remi Lamerat, 12-Wesley Fofana, 11-Gael Fickou, 10-Anthony Belleau, 9-Morgan Parra (captain), 8-Kevin Gourdon, 7-Kelian Galletier, 6-Mathieu Babillot, 5-Yoann Maestri, 4-Bernard Le Roux, 3-Uini Atonio, 2-Camille Chat, 1-Dany Priso
Replacements: 16-Adrien Pelissie, 17-Cyril Baille, 18-Cedate Gomes Sa, 19-Felix Lambey, 20-Alexandre Lapandry, 21-Baptiste Serin, 22-Jules Plisson, 23-Maxime Medard