Marcoussis - France will rely on a heavyweight backrow to try and contain world champions South Africa in their Test in Toulouse on Friday.
Kick-off is at 21:45 SA time.
Regular No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy has been switched to blindside flank with Louis Picamoles packing into the back of the scrum and captain Thierry Dusautoir starting at openside flank.
"We picked a backrow that offers a lot of guarantees in terms of power and experience," coach Marc Lievremont told a news conference at the team's training camp in Marcoussis on Monday.
Asked if he had considered selecting Sebastien Chabal in the backrow, the French coach answered with a blunt "no" before adding: "Even if he his less explosive than Chabal, Picamoles has proved his worth in terms of power."
Lievremont kept faith with Julien Dupuy, the former Leicester scrumhalf now with Stade Francais, and flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc, who both played in France's 27-22 win over New Zealand in June, but re-jigged other parts of the backline. Damien Traille was moved from centre to fullback to counter the aggressive field kicking of the Springboks.
Traille's move allowed for the selection of the youthful centre pairing of Maxime Mermoz, a 23-year-old with four Test caps, and 21-year-old Yann David, who will earn his second cap.
"Maxime is the in-form centre of the French championship but we had a long discussion before selecting Yann ahead of David Marty who is Mermoz's team-mate with Perpignan," Lievremont said.
"We went for the robustness of David because we think power will be important against the Springboks."
15-Damien Traille, 14-Vincent Clerc, 13-Yann David, 12-Maxime Mermoz, 11-Cedric Heymans, 10-Francois Trinh-Duc, 9-Julien Dupuy, 8-Louis Picamoles, 7-Imanol Harinordoquy, 6-Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5-Romain Millo-Chluski, 4-Lionel Nallet, 3-Nicolas Mas, 2-William Servat, 1-Fabien Barcella
Replacements: 16-Dimitri Szarzewski, 17-Sylvain Marconnet, 18-Sebastien Chabal, 19-Julien Bonnaire, 20-Morgan Parra, 21-David Marty, 22-Maxime Medard