Uncapped Castres winger Remy Grosso replaces injured Yoann Huget in the France squad
In four years in charge of France, Philippe Saint-André has used 82 players – one fewer than his predecessor Marc Lièvremont.
Over the next fortnight, Saint-André should equal Lièvremont’s record after he called up uncapped winger Rémy Grosso to replace the injured Yoann Huget.
The loss of the Toulouse winger is huge for les Bleus. While he is a controversial character, and his appearance in the tournament was not welcomed by all, Huget was in fine form.
His combination of pace and power, as well as a mean sidestep, made him a threat for France, who are short of options out wide.
It was on one of those trademark sidesteps that he suffered a torn ACL, and his season looks to be over as a result.
That left Saint-André with just two wingers in his squad, the supremely talented if a little infuriating Noa Nakaitaci, and Bordeaux flyer Sofiane Guitoune.
The latter was something of a surprise inclusion, having earned a call-up back in 2013 but has since suffered a string of injuries, making just one appearance during the Six Nations.
He looked miles off the pace in the warm-up game with England at Twickenham, so Grosso has every chance of coming straight into the starting lineup for the pool decider against Ireland.
The Castres winger is an intriguing prospect. He first caught the eye in a struggling Lyon side before a move that saw his career stall somewhat.
Powerfully built and very strong, he’s in a similar mould to Huget, with a little less subtlety and obviously far less experience.
With nine tries for Castres last season, he showed his nose for the try-line, and he already has one this year in three Top 14 games.
He also spent the summer playing for France’s Sevens side as they made it to the Olympics with victories in the European qualifiers.
That appeared to help him, and he’s looked very difficult to stop so far this season. He’ll miss Wednesday’s clash with Romania because of World Rugby’s replacement regulations, but expect him to have some fun against a poor Canada side in the third round of matches.
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