PARIS: Number eight Louis Picamoles was included in France's 31-man squad for the rugby World Cup on Monday for his last participation in the sport's extravaganza.
The 33-year-old, who is expected to quit international rugby after the Sept. 20-Nov. 2 tournament in Japan, will take part in his third World Cup after coach Jacques Brunel preferred him to Francois Cros.
The list was drawn from a preliminary squad of 37, with notably Felix Lambey and Romain Taofifenua being omitted.
France will take on Argentina, England, Tonga and the United States in Pool C.
"We picked (Picamoles) after several nice performances and because of his experience," Brunel said.
"We also picked a player who can play third and second row in Arthur Iturria."
Les Bleus, who slipped down to eighth in the world rankings after years of under-performing, geared up for the tournament with two wins against Scotland and Italy, and a defeat away by the Scots.
They were far from impressive, yet Brunel believes they can cause an upset in Japan, with a potentially decisive clash against Argentina on Sept. 21 their first outing.
"The favourites are always the same. The number one favourites are the All Blacks," he said, refusing to elaborate.
"This squad is a good mix of youth and experience, it's a good balance. The Pool is tough but we hope to get very very far in this tournament," said Brunel, who included five halfbacks in his squad with scrumhalves Baptiste Serin, Antoine Dupont and Maxime Machenaud and flyhalves Camille Lopez and Romain Ntamack.
"With five halfbacks we're ready for every possibility," Brunel explained.
The squad will gather at their training camp in Marcoussis on Wednesday before flying to Japan on Saturday.
Forwards: Jefferson Poirot (Bordeaux-Bègles), Rabah Slimani (Clermont), Demba Bamba (Lyon), Emerick Setiano (Toulon), Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Guilhem Guirado (Montpellier, cap.), Camille Chat (Racing 92), Peato Mauvaka (Toulouse), Sébastien Vahaamahina (Clermont), Paul Gabrillagues (Stade Français), Arthur Iturria (Clermont), Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92), Gregory Alldritt (La Rochelle), Charles Ollivon (Toulon), Louis Picamoles (Montpellier), Yacouba Camara (Montpellier), Wenceslas Lauret (Racing 92).
Backs: Antoine Dupont (Toulouse), Baptiste Serin (Toulon), Maxime Machenaud (Racing 92), Camille Lopez (Clermont), Romain Ntamack (Toulouse), Gael Fickou (Stade Français), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Sofiane Guitoune (Toulouse), Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Alivereti Raka (Clermont), Damian Penaud (Clermont), Maxime Médard (Toulouse), Thomas Ramos (Toulouse).
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)