Teenage Toulouse centre Gael Fickou has been named by Philippe Saint-Andre in a 27-strong France squad ahead of their one-off rugby union Test match against Samoa at the Stade de France next weekend.
Fickou missed out on France’s 39-22 victory over Argentina on Saturday and the 33-6 rout of Australia the weekend before, but was called up along with flanker Pierrick Gunther, fullback/wing Benjamin Fall and lock Sebastien Vahaamahina.
“They’ll be with us until Tuesday and we’ll take a decision on Tuesday evening,” Saint-Andre said.
Saint-Andre said that the quartet were summoned as cover for potential injuries following the victory over the Pumas, without giving further details.
“I spoke with Marc Lievremont and other former coaches and there’s often been a few problems with rehabilitation and freshness in this third week of matches,” he said.
“We’re maybe going to play the toughest match of this November series of Tests. It’s up to us to live up to this challenge, and for the public to come in big numbers to the Stade de France.
“We’re masters of our own destiny: if we win this match, we have a 95 percent chance of being among the first band of seeded teams for the December 3 World Cup draw.”
But Saint-Andre was keen to insist that Samoa proved a more dangerous proposition than Australia and Argentina after the South Sea islanders’ victories over European champions Wales (26-19) and Canada (42-12).
“When you watch that match against Wales, the content and above all the number of injured Welshmen after 80 minutes, you say to yourself that it’s going to be a complicated game. The players saw it as well, they’re conscious of it.”
Looking ahead, Saint-Andre bounced back with one of his key words: continuity.
“We’ve just won matches against two countries that play in the Rugby Championship, which means that we’re capable of putting together two high-level games. We’ll see if we can do a third.”
Saint-Andre will name the starting XV on Thursday.
Forwards (15): Thomas Domingo (Clermont), Yannick Forestier (Castres), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing-Metro), Vincent Debaty (Clermont), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Pape (capt, Stade Francais), Jocelino Suta (Toulon), Sebastien Vahaamahina (Perpignan), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse), Pierrick Gunther (Toulon)
Backs (12): Maxime Machenaud (Racing-Metro), Morgan Parra (Clermont), Frederic Michalak (Toulon), Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Brice Dulin (Castres), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Florian Fritz (Toulouse), Gael Fickou (Toulouse), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Maxime Mermoz (Toulon), Benjamin Fall (Racing-Metro)