The French side to play the Black Ferns at Pau on Saturday:
15 Emilie Boulard (Chilly-Mazarin), 14 Cyrielle Banet (Montpellier), 13 Maëlle Filopon (Stade Toulousain), 12 Gabrielle Vernier (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois), 11 Caroline Boujard (Montpellier), 10 Caroline Drouin (Stade Rennais), 9 Pauline Bourdon, 1 Coco Lindelauf (Blagnac), 2 Agathe Sochat (Montpellier), 3 Annaëlle Deshayes (Lyon OU), 4 Céline Ferer (Stade Toulousain), 5 Audrey Forlani (Blagnac), 6 Gaëlle Hermet (captain, Stade Toulousain), 7 Romane Ménager (Montpellier), 8 Emeline Gros (Montpellier)
Bench: 16 Laure Touyé (Montpellier), 17 Yllana Brosseau (AC Bobigny 93) 18 Clara Joyeux (Blagnac), 19 Safi N’Diaye (Montpellier), 20 Axelle Berthoumieux (Blagnac), 21 Laure Sansus (Stade Toulousain), 22 Chloé Jacquet (Lyon OU), 23 Jessy Trémoulière (Romagnat)
We should never expect this side to be predictable, and the management is well aware this is a two- game programme, but there are surprises. Up front young Coco Lindelauf has earned the reward of a second cap, requiring Annaëlle Deshayes to shift across once more to tight-head. This is the management’s solution to the unavailability of Rose Bernardou.
Although the elder Ménager sister is in action again, Emeline Gros retains the No 8 spot. But Ménager hit the headlines at the last World Cup wearing No 7.
It’s Pauline Bourdon’s turn to play scrum-half. She may enjoy jousting with Kendra Cocksedge as much as Leanne Infante did. Inevitably the two Montpellier wingers switch numbers, though their positions on the field may give the lie to those indicators.
Some of the old guard have to wait their turn on the bench, Safi N’Diaye and Jessy Trémoulière chief among them.
All in all this is a formidable line-up. There are a few tickets left for purchase; you may need to take ear-muffs.
The Kiwi Angle
No news of team selection yet, but sadly Grace Brooker has suffered a bad knee injury at Northampton and is out of the rest of the tour.
Comments by New Zealand management and media people reveal how uncertain of success they were in their long-awaited European tour.
Now that the Black Ferns have sustained two consecutive record losses, they know their doubts were justified. And the challenge facing them in France will demand two top performances.