France drop Raka ahead of Italy clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wing Alivereti Raka was dropped from France’s side to face Italy this weekend in their final warm-up Test ahead of the Rugby World Cup, head coach Jacques Brunel announced on Tuesday.
Fijian-born Raka, 24, started in both of Les Bleus’ previous pre-tournament fixtures against Scotland but was omitted from the matchday squad to host the Azzurri in Paris on Friday.
The Clermont powerhouse, who scored on his debut against the Scots in Nice and has been replaced by Gael Fickou, obtained his French citizenship last December after impressive displays for the Top 14 outfit.
Only six faces remain from the defeat in Edinburgh as Arthur Iturria moves to second-row and Fickou, who played centre at Murrayfield, lines up on the left wing, in the two positional changes.
Captain Guilhem Guirado is on the bench with loose-head prop Jefferson Poirot leading the side, as he did in Nice.
Raka’s club teammate Camille Lopez also misses out altogether to 20-year-old Toulouse flyhalf Romain Ntamack.
The whole back-row is changed with 78-time international Louis Picamoles starting at No.8 alongside Yacouba Camara and Wenceslas Lauret.
🇫🇷🇮🇹 Vendredi soir, le #XVdeFrance affronte l’Italie pour son dernier match de préparation avant la Coupe du Monde ! Voici votre équipe pour cette rencontre au @StadeFrance ! #FRAITA #NeFaisonsXV #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/x2A4vKlwR1
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) August 27, 2019
France: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Gael Fickou, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Arthur Iturria, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Jefferson Poirot (captain).
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Emerick Setiano, 19 Felix Lambey, 20 Francois Cros, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Virimi Vakatawa, 23 Thomas Ramos.
Date: Friday, August 30
Venue: Stade de France, St Denis
Kick-off: 21.10 (19.10 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)