Paris - "Quiet
force" Mathieu Bastareaud will captain France in their final Six
Nations match against Wales on Saturday after Guilhem Guirado was ruled
out with a knee injury.
The barnstorming Toulon centre has revelled in French colours since
his recall to the national team after a ban and again links up with
Geoffrey Doumayrou in midfield.
Guirado's place at hooker is taken by Adrien Pelissie, who will make his debut run-on after four caps as a replacement.
Two other changes by coach Jacques Brunel see Cedate Gomes Sa take
the place of Rabah Slimani at tighthead prop, while Gael Fickou starts
on the right wing, Benjamin Fall moving to fullback in place of injured
Hugo Bonneval, who failed a head injury assessment.
"Guilhem can't play, it would have been too risky," said Brunel of
the hooker who was injured in the nail-biting 22-16 victory over England
Turning to the 44-times capped Bastareaud, who has been captaining
Toulon this season, Brunel said: "For some time he has a sort of
serenity which can influence the team.
"He's like a quiet force. We know the weight he can have on the pitch, with or without the ball."
In the front row, it will also be a first start for Gomes Sa, who
replaces Slimani, who gave away three costly penalties against England
by collapsing the scrum.
"I wouldn't say that didn't count, but it's not linked to that," said Brunel.
"We had a debrief with the referees' head (Joel Dume) because we didn't agree with two penalties awarded against Rabah.
"We put too much focus on Rabah Slimani and didn't take into account
the positioning of the English and notably the pressure they exerted at
the bind, something our captain (Guirado) pointed out at the time."
Fickou sees his energetic cameo role against England pay off with a start, albeit slightly out of position.
"We kept the same set-up in the backline," Brunel said.
not in his usual position (of centre) but he pleased us a lot against
Kick-off is at 19:00 SA time.
15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Gael Fickou, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud (captain), 12 Geoffrey
Doumayrou, 11 Remy Grosso, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Marco
Tauleigne, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 4 Paul
Gabrillagues, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Adrien Pelissie, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Bernard Le
Roux, 20 Mathieu Babillot, 21 Baptiste Couilloud, 22 Lionel Beauxis, 23 Geoffrey