Paris - France coach Jacques Brunel kept faith with his captain while
tinkering with his lineup again to make six changes to his team ahead of
the Six Nations match against Italy in Rome.
Following a report
in L'Equipe newspaper that Brunel tried to take the captaincy away from
Guilhem Guirado after England humiliated them 44-8 a month ago, Brunel
said the hooker will remain captain until the end of the Rugby World Cup
in Japan this year.
"I have been knowing him for 12 years,"
Brunel told a news conference. "After England, the staff, our game, our
training sessions and our captain have been questioned. Guilhem has been
further reinforced as captain."
Guirado will lead a side which
has won only once, against Scotland 27-10 last month in Paris. Last
Sunday, France were flattered to lose to Ireland by only 26-14 in Dublin.
Fofana will start in midfield in place of Gael Fickou at Stadio
Olimpico on Saturday, and Maxime Medard will be at fullback as France
try to finish the tournament on a positive note following another
Up front, injured prop Jefferson Poirot is
replaced by Etienne Falgoux, who earns his first start with the
Tricolours. South African-born Paul Willemse returns in the second row, while Gregory
Alldritt and Yacouba Camara start in the back row.
Brunel stuck with the halfback pairing of Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, with the latter in charge of the kicking duties.
"He has been training and kicking well, I trust him," Brunel said.
have won their last five match-ups with Italy, but though the Italians will
finish with the wooden spoon, they have been tough at home, giving
scares to Ireland and Wales.
"We know this match will be
difficult," Brunel said. "Some Italians are playing their last
(international) match, they will try to surpass themselves.
want to show a different face this week, but the results speak for
themselves. We are not at the level of some of the other teams in this
"We haven't fixed everything, of course there are
still things we need to work on. We will carry on, working hard and with
the World Cup to come, we are hopeful we can get it right."
Brunel has won just four matches out of 15 since he was appointed coach in January last year.
Saturday's Test at the Stadio Olimpico is scheduled for 14:30 (SA time).
15 Maxime Medard, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Gregory Alldritt, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Félix Lambey, 3 Demba Bamba, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Etienne Falgoux.
Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Arthur Iturria, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Thomas Ramos