Mathieu Bastareaud will start for France against New Zealand
By Rory O'Callaghan
Last Updated: 09/11/17 3:37pm
Mathieu Bastareaud is set to make his first start for France in over two years as Guy Noves prepares his side to face world champions New Zealand in Paris.
Bastareaud hasn't represented his country since the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff, when France were comfortably defeated by the All Blacks 62-13.
The 29-year-old will partner uncapped La Rochelle centre Geoffrey Doumayrou at the Stade de France on Saturday.
"We've got some maturity in midfield with Mathieu, and some speed and ardour with Geoffrey, this is what we call a good balance," Noves said on Thursday. "Will it be enough? Let's see."
Three other uncapped players will start against the All Blacks; Toulon fly-half Anthony Belleau, Clermont flanker Judicael Cancoriet, and Stade Francais lock Paul Gabrillagues, while Clermont prop Raphael Chaume and Castres flanker Anthony Jelonch could make their debuts from the bench.
"Given their performances with their clubs since the start of the season, we wanted to see what they would be capable of as starters at this level," Noves said.
Belleau, 21, will make his debut alongside Toulouse scrum-half Antoine Dupont, 20, who has just three caps with none of those coming from the start, in one of the youngest ever half-back partnerships for Les Bleus.
"The half-backs are two young players. Given their performances for their clubs and Antoine's (for France) last season, when he was with us for the Six Nations and the tour (to South Africa in June), we decided we wanted to see what they could do at this level," said Noves.
Belleau has started seven of Toulon's nine Top 14 matches so far this season, having been the star of the club's semi-final victory over La Rochelle in May.
Dupont has been picked for his first start ahead of Bordeaux-Begles' Baptiste Serin, relegated to the bench after starting seven of France's eight matches this year.
Teddy Thomas comes back into the side on the right wing for the first time since February 2016, picked for a sixth cap ahead of Hugo Bonneval and Gabriel Lacroix, and in the absence of injured Fijian-born pair Noa Nakaitaci and Virimi Vakatawa.
Nans Ducuing will earn just his third cap at full-back as South African-born Scott Spedding doesn't even make the bench.
France: 15 Nans Ducuing; 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Mathieu Bastareaud, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Antoine Dupont; 1 Jefferson Poirot, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 3 Rabah Slimani, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 6 Judicael Cancoriet, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 8 Louis Picamoles
Replacements: Clement Maynadier, Raphael Chaume, Daniel Kotze, Paul Jedrasiak, Anthony Jelonch, Baptiste Serin, Francois Trinh-Duc, Damian Penaud