Bastareaud among five France changes

by AAP

France have made five changes to face Italy in the Six Nations, with coach Jacques Brunel's side looking to stem an eight-match winless streak amid disciplinary problems.

Brunel dropped several players who went out drinking into the early hours without his permission following the 32-26 defeat against Scotland.

Among them was winger Teddy Thomas, who has been a rare plus for a struggling France side with three tries in two matches. In light of the suspensions, four of the five changes are in the backs.

Centre Mathieu Bastareaud returns to win his 43rd test cap and will partner Geoffrey Doumayrou in midfield.

Hugo Bonneval will come into the team to face Italy. Photo: Getty ImagesHugo Bonneval replaces Geoffrey Palis at fullback, while Benjamin Fall and Remy Grosso are selected on the wings.

The fifth change sees Paul Gabrillagues at second row for Arthur Iturria - who was among those suspended and according to some French media reports got involved in a scuffle on the streets in Edinburgh.

Experienced flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc and centre Gael Fickou are on the bench.

The match will be played at Stade Veldrome in Marseille. France have played there before, notably during the 2007 World Cup on home soil, but is hosting a Six Nations game there for the first time.

Les Bleus lost their opening game to Ireland 15-13 in Paris after conceding a last-gasp drop goal and wasted a 20-14 halftime lead against the Scots.

Hooker Guilhem Guirado captains the side with the forwards unchanged as Brunel looks for some stability amid a turbulent period for Les Bleus.

France takes on Italy on Friday February 23, 8pm local, Saturday 6am AEDT.


France to play Italy

1. Jefferson Poirot

2. Guilhem Guirado

3. Rabah Slimani

4. Paul Gabrillagues

5. Sebastien Vahaamahina

6. Wenceslas Lauret

7. Yacouba Camara

8. Marco Tauleigen

9. maxime Machenaud

10. Lionel Beauxis

11. Remny grosso

12. Geoffrey Doumayrou

13. Mathiew Bastareaud

14. Benjamin Fall

15. Hugo Bonneval


16. Adrien Pelissie

17. Dany Priso

18. Cedate Gomes Sa

19. Romain Taofifenua

20. Kelian Galletier

21. Baptiste Couilloud

22. Francois Trinh-Duc

23. Gael Fickou.