Noves calls up 8 new players in his Six Nations squad
PARIS (AP) Newly-appointed France coach Guy Noves has urged his players to ''try and reach unexpected limits'' during the four years leading up to the next World Cup in Japan.
Noves, who named his 31-player squad for the Six Nations tournament on Tuesday, replaced former France coach Philippe Saint-Andre in November after a crushing 62-13 loss to eventual World Cup champion New Zealand.
The former Toulouse coach brought in eight uncapped players in his squad, including France rugby sevens star Virimi Vakatawa.
''We tried to prepare a France group that, for the most part, will go along with us over the next four years,'' Noves said. ''Hopefully we will be able to please the fans. The players need to be aware that we represent France. (Aiming to) make people happy is something normal.''
Under his predecessor, France went through four unimpressive years marked by a last-place finish in the Six Nations and a style of rugby that lacked fluidity and movement.
Noves, who led Toulouse to four European Cups and 10 French titles, has a different approach and advocates a more attacking style.
Noves, however, insisted that he built Toulouse's successes with solid and powerful packs of forwards.
''Every time we won a title with Toulouse, we did it thanks to great performances from our forwards, who allowed our backs to shine,'' Noves said. ''Rugby starts with the forwards.''
The players will gather at a training camp from Jan. 25-27 before France kicks off its Six Nations campaign against Italy at Stade de France on Feb. 6.
In addition to Vakatawa, Noves called up uncapped front row players Camille Chat and Jefferson Poirot. He also included in his list second row newcomer Paul Jedrasiak, flanker Yacouba Camara, La Rochelle's Kevin Gourdon, scrumhalf Sebastien Bezy and powerful center Jonathan Danty.
Following France skipper Thierry Dusautoir's international retirement alongside several other veterans, hook Guilhem Guirado will captain the team as previously announced.
Noves also dropped Mathieu Bastareaud, hinting that the sturdy center does not fit into his plans.
''Mathieu is a talented player, everyone can see it,'' Noves said. ''But the true question is whether he can suit our project.''
Flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc was also left out but is expected to return when he will have fully recovered from a leg injury.
Backs: Uini Atonio, Eddy Ben Arous, Antoine Burban, Yacouba Camara, Camille Chat, Damien Chouly, Alexandre Flanquart, Kevin Gourdon, Guilhem Guirado, Paul Jedrasiak, Wenceslas Lauret, Yoann Maestri, Louis Picamoles, Jefferson Poirot, Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina.
Forwards: Sebastien Bezy, Hugo Bonneval, Jonathan Danty, Jean-Marc Doussain, Alexandre Dumoulin, Benjamin Fall, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Remi Lamerat, Maxime Machenaud, Maxime Medard, Morgan Parra, Jules Plisson, Scott Spedding, Virimi Vakatawa.