Monday 22 January 2018

Saint-Andre shakes up French selection

Philippe Saint-Andre
Philippe Saint-Andre

FRANCE coach Philippe Saint-Andre has shaken up his side by making eight changes from the team which lost 20-13 at home to Wales for Sunday's trip to play Italy - although four are injury swaps.

Saint-Andre was scathing after the Wales defeat, ripping into his players and even mocking them for their tendency to easily give away points by saying France has become the "Father Christmas" of international rugby. Five of the changes involve the backs as Sebastien Tillous-Borde comes in for scrum-half Morgan Parra, while Scott Spedding returns at full-back at Brice Dulin's expense.

Noa Nakaitaci is set to start in place of the injured Sofiane Guitoune (hamstring) on the wing and there is also a new centre partnership as Gael Fickou and Maxime Mermoz start.

Changes in the forwards line see Nicolas Mas, Alexandre Flanquart and Loann Goujon all named in the starting XV as Rabah Slimani, Romain Taofifenua and Damien Chouly drop to the bench.

Saint-Andre explained the reasoning behind his decisions.

"Scott (Spedding) has refreshed (the team) mentally and physically.

"He found energy. His kicking game can also be used to complement Camille Lopez. And today, we believe that Scott is ahead of Brice."

The France boss named Mathieu Bastareaud among his replacements for the match in Rome, and hopes the 31-cap centre can make a difference late on. "We think Mathieu is a better impact player in the last 20 minutes."

FRANCE (v Italy): S Spedding; Y Huget, G Fickou, M Mermoz, N Nakaitaci; C Lopez, S Tillous-Borde; L Goujon, B Le Rouz, T Dusautoir, Y Maestri, A Flanquart, N Mas, G Guirado, E Ben Arous.

Italy v France, live RTE2/BBC1,  Sunday (3.0)

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