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France head coach Brunel in line for criticism after a series of big calls for New Zealand tour

By Ben Spratt

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France have rested captain Guilhem Guirado for their tour of New Zealand, while Teddy Thomas has been handed an international recall.

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Jacques Brunel’s side will play the All Blacks over three Tests in June, but they will do so without skipper Guirado. Mathieu Bastareaud is reportedly set to step into the role during his absence.

The choice of Bastareaud may raise eyebrows, the centre was suspended for three weeks in January  after verbally abusing the Benetton Rugby flanker, Sebastian Negri Da Oleggio during his club’s Champions Cup, Round 5 match against Benetton Rugby at Stade Félix Mayol.

The ref mic picked up Bastareaud calling Negri a ‘f***ing f****t’, which caused a storm of criticism for the player. Bastareaud missed France’s opening two Six Nations matches, but returned to the side for their match with Italy.

Thomas will be involved, winning back his place in the squad after his fine form in a France shirt was offset by a controversial night out after the Six Nations clash against Scotland.

Anthony Belleau, Felix Lambey, Remi Lamerat and Alexandre Lapandry have also been recalled, having been dropped after the defeat in Edinburgh.

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Thomas is joined in the squad by centre Wesley Fofana, who has struggled with injury over the last 18 months, and his Clermont Auvergne team-mate Morgan Parra.

“This is the ideal opportunity for us to make a final review of the squad and to see new players join the France squad before this pre-World Cup season begins,” Brunel said.

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France squad:

Forwards: Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Mathieu Babillot (Castres), Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Eddy Ben Arous (Racing 92), Pierre Bougarit (La Rochelle), Camille Chat (Racing 92), Paul Gabrillagues (Stade Francais), Kelian Galletier (Montpellier), Cedate Gomes Sa (Racing 92), Kevin Gourdon (La Rochelle), Felix Lambey (Lyon), Alexandre Lapandry (Clermont Auvergne), Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Adrien Pelissie (Bordeaux-Begles), Dany Priso (La Rochelle), Fabien Sanconnie (Brive), Rabah Slimani (Clermont Auvergne).

Backs: Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Anthony Belleau (Toulon), Hugo Bonneval (Toulon), Geoffrey Doumayrou (La Rochelle), Benjamin Fall (Montpellier), Gael Fickou (Toulouse), Wesley Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), Remy Grosso (Clermont Auvergne), Remi Lamerat (Clermont Auvergne), Maxime Medard (Toulouse), Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne), Jules Plisson (Stade Francais), Baptiste Serin (Bordeaux-Begles), Teddy Thomas (Racing 92).

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