France get big names back for England clash
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Flyhalf Romain Ntamack and centre Virimi Vakatawa were on Sunday included in France’s 31-man training squad for the Six Nations match against England next week after having had made successful returns from injuries.
Coach Fabien Galthie will unveil the final 23-strong matchday squad on Thursday, ahead of Sunday’s match at Twickenham.
Two of the eight starters in the opening 50-10 win over Italy and 15-13 victory over Ireland who were affected by Covid-19 before the postponement of the Scotland game – Montpellier centre Arthur Vincent and injured Toulon wing Gabin Villiere – were not named in the 31.
The six others make their return: front rowers Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand and Mohamed Haouas, captain and flank Charles Ollivon, scrumhalf Antoine Dupont and fullback Brice Dulin.
Among other players hit by the coronavirus, replacement lock Romain Taofifenua is back, but hooker Peato Mauvaka, lock Baptiste Pesenti and prop Uini Atonio are not included.
Ntamack and Vakatawa, two mainstays since Galthie took over as France coach at the end of 2019, had been ruled out before the Six Nations started.
Toulouse playmaker Ntamack suffered a double jaw fracture in December, while Fiji-born Racing midfielder Vakatawa sustained a knee injury in January. The pair made their club comebacks in Top 14 action on Saturday.
France’s 31-man Six Nations training squad:
Front row: Dorian Aldegheri (Toulouse), Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Pierre Bourgarit (La Rochelle), Camille Chat (Racing 92), Jean-Baptiste Gros (Toulon), Mohamed Haouas (Montpellier), Wilfrid Hounkpatin (Castres), Julien Marchand (Toulouse)
Second row: Cyril Cazeaux (Bordeaux-Begles), Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92), Romain Taofifenua (Toulon), Paul Willemse (Montpellier)
Back row: Gregory Alldritt (La Rochelle), Dylan Cretin (Lyon), Anthony Jelonch (Castres), Charles Ollivon (Toulon, capt), Cameron Woki (Bordeaux-Begles)
Scrumhalves: Baptiste Couilloud (Lyon), Antoine Dupont (Toulouse), Baptiste Serin (Toulon)
Flyhalves: Matthieu Jalibert (Bordeaux-Begles), Romain Ntamack (Toulouse)
Centres: Jonathan Danty (Stade Francais), Gael Fickou (Stade Francais), Yoram Moefana (Bordeaux-Begles), Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92)
Wings: Damian Penaud (Clermont), Donovan Taofifenua (Racing 92), Teddy Thomas (Racing 92)
Fullbacks: Anthony Bouthier (Montpellier), Brice Dulin (La Rochelle)