France make six changes ahead of Italy Six Nations test
Last Updated: 14/03/19 11:57am
France coach Jacques Brunel has made six changes to his team ahead of their Six Nations match against Italy in Rome.
Wesley Fofana has come in to replace Gael Fickou in the midfield at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, with Maxime Medard coming in at full-back.
Up front, injured prop Jefferson Poirot (knee) is replaced by Etienne Falgoux, who earns his first start for the Tricolors.
Paul Willemse returns in the second row, while Gregory Alldritt and Yacouba Camara start in the back row.
Brunel has retained half-backs Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, with the latter in charge of the kicking duties.
France's coach has also confirmed that hooker Guilhem Guirado will captain the side against Italy, and will remain as skipper until the end of the Rugby World Cup in Japan this year.
"I have been knowing him for 12 years," Brunel said.
"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 only won once in this year's Championship - against Scotland 27-10 last month in Paris.
France have won their previous five matches against with Italy, and will be aiming to finish their Six Nations campaign on a positive note, with Brunel's side currently fifth in the overall standings.
"We know this match will be difficult," Brunel said.
"Some Italians are playing their last [international] match, they will try to surpass themselves.
"We 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 championship.
"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."
France: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont; 1 Etienne Falgoux, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 3 Demba Bamba, 4 Felix Lambey, 5 Paul Willemse, 6 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Yacouba Camara, 8 Louis Picamoles.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Arthur Iturria, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Thomas Ramos.