Prop Nicolas Mas, who will captain France for the first time Saturday against Australia, has voiced his pride in taking over from veteran Thierry Dusautoir who is recovering full fitness.
“I’m taking it with a lot of pride knowing it will be a big match,” said the 34-year-old, who, with 70 caps, is the most experienced campaigner in France’s 31-strong squad in Brisbane.
“It’s an honour to be the captain of France,” added Mas, who captained Perpignan for five years and now plays for Mediterranean rivals Montpellier.
But he said he had no intention of keeping the skipper’s armband.
“I was very pleased but Thierry remains captain, I’m only there for this game,” Mas said late Thursday.
“I’ll try to do my best to lead the troops… I’ll just try to help the others but I won’t add any more pressure.”
Dusautoir, who has 65 caps, is expected to be back for the second Test in Melbourne on June 14.
Meanwhile, Felix Le Bourhis wins his first cap on Saturday at the age of 26 and is hoping to make an impact ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
“I’ve been told to open up, to try to play as I do in the league, not to worry about who we are playing against, not to be shy, not to have any regrets when we go home ” he said.
“I didn’t come for a three-week holiday.”
Le Bourhis lines up on the wing where he has only played one game this season for Bordeaux who prefer him at centre.
France’s revamped side are looking for their first win in Australia in 24 years.
The loss of 2011 IRB player of the year Dusautoir means Les Bleus are without half a dozen top names with four players involved in last weekend’s Top 14 final between Toulon and Castres also being rested.
The final Test is in Sydney on June 21.