France head coach Bernard Laporte insisted form and injuries had dictated his decision to select an experimental line-up for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations Championship opener against Italy in Rome.
Les Bleus have gone with a new-look half-back pairing of Pierre Mignoni and David Skrela for the match, while at the same time handing recalls to Sale's powerhouse number eight Sebastien Chabal and Toulouse full-back Clement Poitrenaud.
Laporte has lost a host of key players to injury in the run-up to the tournament, with captain Fabien Pelous, Elvis Vermeulen and Damien Traille among those sidelined.
But he is happy to hand starts to those players who have performed well for their clubs in recent months.
And with his squad for this year's World Cup, which is held in France this autumn, still far from finalised, Laporte is interested to see which of his men take their chance.
'First of all, because of injuries, we have had to make changes,' he said.
'And the performances of some have seen players come into the 40(-man squad) and get themselves into the 22. It is as simple as that.
'Our aim is really to polish the (World Cup) squad that we will announce in June. We therefore want to see as many players as possible.
'And it's not like we are giving chances to players who have not been performing for their clubs. We are giving opportunities to those who have been performing well every week.'
Clermont-Auvergne's Mignoni gets the nod over regular Les Bleus scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili because in Skrela, he will have a specialist kicker alongside him.
The Stade Francais fly-half returns to the France team almost six years after his last appearance for his country, a defeat to New Zealand in June 2001. Lionel Beauxis, Skrela's team-mate at Stade, has been drafted into the squad and will be on the bench.
Skrela has benefited from the injuries suffered by his competition at fly-half - namely regular starter Frederic Michalak and back-ups Traille and Benjamin Boyet - and Laporte feels both he and Mignoni deserve their chance.
'Having given four games to Damien Traille, we know he can play there at international level. Now we must see how David Skrela and Lionel Beauxis play,' he continued.
'The selection of a kicker like David Skrela allows us to call up Pierre Mignoni. He makes breaks all the time with Clermont. He accelerates the pace of a game, and he passes quickly and precisely."
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