France wing Vincent Clerc has backed coach Marc Lievremont's squad rotation policy, saying it is essential that everyone gets a game at a long tournament like the World Cup.
Lievremont has developed a reputation for endlessly tinkering with his teams since taking charge four years ago, and is likely to continue doing so in pool matches against Japan, Canada - and even New Zealand.
Clerc, who will win his 51st cap against Japan on Saturday, says France will need most of its squad playing at some stage in order to reach the Final on October 23.
"I think it's good to rotate, it's good for everyone's morale," Clerc said Wednesday. "I think it's logical, you're playing in a competition where you can play up to seven matches at the highest level."
Lievremont's chopping and changing over the years has led to criticism that he has been unable to find his best team.
Even fullback Cedric Heymans said on Wednesday that he thinks it would be a "grave mistake" to rest several key players against the All Blacks in order to keep them fresh for the potentially decisive final Group A match against Tonga.
But Clerc maintains it is a productive approach, and that Lievremont may ultimately be proved right.
"Sometimes it's good to have fresh legs," he said. "Sometimes you need a bit of competition within the squad so that everyone feels like they're involved."
Hosts New Zealand have pledged to keep the same core of 10-12 players involved in each match during the tournament, believing that rotating too much cost them at the 2007 World Cup, when they lost to France in the quarterfinals.
"I don't know if that's what lost them the last World Cup. They've had failures in (other) World Cups, not just the last one," Clerc said. "We played the perfect match. They lost two or three flyhalves in the space of 20 minutes, I don't think you can draw a conclusion from one match."
The 30-year-old Clerc also thinks international rugby has evolved, and that teams are less reliant on superstars than they used to be.
"Maybe there aren't players who run the whole length of the field. Is there a team which has a player like that?," he said. "I struggle to see one, apart from when Jonah Lomu back in the glory era used to run the length of the field on his own. I'm not sure even the All Blacks have one (now)."
Having shaken off a knee injury, Clerc is raring to go against Japan, and is looking to expand on his 30 international tries - five of those coming at the last World Cup on home soil.
"I want to play, I've played only a bit more than one match for the last two and a half months," he said. "So obviously I'm hungry to get out on the pitch."
France's players have been enjoying the build up to the tournament, even if they have been on the receiving end of some friendly ribbing from locals.
"I think they like us. They come to us, make fun of us a bit, because of the (rugby) history that's between us," Clerc said. "But there's no hostility in it."
France lost the inaugural World Cup Final to the All Blacks in 1987, but also eliminated them at the semifinal stage in 1999 thanks to a stunning second-half comeback.
"We've seen all the French flags everywhere, in the bakeries, the news agents, or the clothes shop," Clerc added. "In Auckland, people stopped us in the street to talk about the World Cup, we can feel the anticipation growing."
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