Rugby: Scrum kings axe props after Wallabies expose weakness

By Dylan Cleaver

Matt Toomua of the Wallabies looks. Photo / Getty Images
Matt Toomua of the Wallabies looks. Photo / Getty Images

The rugby world has turned upside down. Australia, with its history of scrum woes, has forced France - who fete their props like heroes - into drastic front-row changes for tomorrow night's second test in Melbourne.

Powerful and crafty scrummaging props are as French as croissants. But Les Bleus coach Philippe Saint-Andre has lamented the dearth of quality front-rowers in his country after his team's 50-23 opening test pounding by the Wallabies.

Saint-Andre has dumped his starting props, veteran tighthead Nicholas Mas and grizzled loosehead Thomas Domingo, in favour of the uncapped Alexandre Menini and seven-test Rabah Slimani.

The coach admitted the changes were a result of a poor scrum in Brisbane and a need to build depth.

France's cashed-up Top 14 league is growing bigger each year but it's costing Les Bleus in several positions, particularly in the front row.

"We don't have too many props in France because they're all foreigners," Saint-Andre said. "If we don't try out some props in a tour 15 months from the World Cup, we'll never try them. This is an opportunity to see them in a fantastic contest."

Normally, the tourists enter tests against Australia targeting the scrum, but not at the moment, as the Wallabies are patching up their long-time Achilles heel.

Rising loosehead James Slipper underlined his talent at Suncorp Stadium by outpointing 72-cap Mas, 34, in his 50th test - just a day after turning 25.

Two days later Slipper was elevated to the vice-captaincy.


- NZ Herald

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