Fofana and Maestri named in French squad for Six Nations
Westley Fofana and Yoann Maestri were named in France's provisional squad for the Six Nations on Thursday.
Clermont Auvergne centre Fofana and Toulouse lock Maestri are rewarded for their outstanding club form, while Philippe Saint-Andre has also recalled several players deemed surplus to requirements by his predecessor Marc Lievremont.
In the squad: Toulouse lock Yoann Maestri
Among them are the Toulouse trio of Clement Poitrenaud, Lionel Beauxis and Yannick Nyanga. Fly-half Beauxis last played for Les Bleus in 2009, while flanker Nyanga has not featured since the 2007 World Cup.
However, there is no place for centre Mathieu Bastareaud or scrum-half Julien Dupuy.
'Yannick Nyanga has been outstanding for Toulouse since the start of the season,' Saint-Andre said. 'We want to have a look at Fofana, he has physical attributes of the very highest level.'
Ringing the changes: Philippe Saint-Andre
Saint-Andre was in the crowd two weeks ago when the 26-year-old Beauxis kicked 28 points – including three drop goals – in a win against Montpellier. He felt it was impossible to leave Beauxis out given his recent performances.
'He's scored 55 points in the last two games,' Saint-Andre said. 'He did everything a great flyhalf can do in that game against Montpellier, dummies, surging runs… he's a player who played in the (2007) World Cup and is still very young. He's coming back after a few injuries.'
Former Sale, Gloucester and Toulon coach Saint-Andre has retained 22 of the squad that reached the World Cup final in October and the exceptional Toulouse flanker Thierry Dusautoir, the IRB World Player of the Year, will retain the captaincy.
The squad will be put through their paces during a three-day training camp later this month ahead of their tournament opener against Italy in Paris on Saturday, February 4.
Provisional 30-man squad for the Six Nations:
France: Forwards: Vincent Debaty, Nicolas Mas, Fabien Barcella, Luc Ducalcon, Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Dimitri Szarzewski, Pascal Pape, Yoann Maestri, Romain Millo-Chluski, Julien Pierre, Julien Bonnaire, Yannick Nyanga, Thierry Dusautoir, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Louis Picamoles, Imanol Harinordoquy.
Backs: Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili, Francois Trinh-Duc, Lionel Beauxis, Maxime Mermoz, Aurelien Rougerie, Yann David, Wesley Fofana, Maxime Medard, Vincent Clerc, Alexis Palisson, Julien Malzieu, Clement Poitrenaud.