France suffers injury setback ahead Le Crunch
NEWS: France wing Damian Penaud will miss this weekend’s game with England due to a calf injury, the French Rugby Federation said on Saturday.
Penaud, 23, who was named to start Les Bleus’ opening game of the tournament in Paris on Sunday, is replaced by three-time international Vincent Rattez in the line-up.
Earlier, team manager Raphael Ibanez said Penaud had sustained the problem during the eve-of-match training session.
Also read our preview: France v England
“He had a muscle problem at the start of the session so he’s undergoing tests and we will see what the results from the tests will be,” Ibanez said at a press conference.
“We hope the results won’t be too significant,” he added.
Toulouse fullback Thomas Ramos or Montpellier centre Arthur Vincent could take Rattez’s place on the bench.
England attack coach Simon Amor said he was prepared for the “wonderful threats” among France’s three-quarters.
Amor, 40, who replaced Australian Scott Wisemantel after the Rugby World Cup final defeat last year, will see his side line up against the in-form Virimi Vakatawa and Teddy Thomas.
“Certainly we’re well aware of the wonderful threats that the French backline possesses, particularly in broken field play,” Amor said.
“If we give them space we know how dangerous and capable they are. It’s really important that we don’t give them that space, that we maintain a real tight composure around them,” he added.
Former England and Team GB sevens head coach Amor praised centre Vakatawa, who featured for France in the shorter form of the sport at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The Racing 92 midfielder has crossed seven times in 10 games for his club this season in his third campaign back in the longer format of the game.
“He was phenomenal for the French sevens team and was a constant threat. To see the progress and the transition he has made and to take that attacking threat into the 15-a-side game has been excellent,” Amor said.
“He is a danger man and is playing well at the moment as well. We’re well aware of that. We have some great players ourselves. We think we’re able to contain him,” he added.
France – revised: 15 Anthony Bouthier, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Vincent Rattez, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Francois Cros, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Boris Palu, 20 Cameron Woki, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Mathieu Jalibert, 23 Thomas Ramos/Arthur Vincent.
Date: Sunday, February 2
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 16.00 (15.00 UK time; 15.00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)