France get some key players back
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Prop Cyril Baille and centre Jonathan Danty make their comeback from injuries after being named in the France team to face Namibia in their third World Cup match in Marseille on Thursday.
Baille, considered one of the world’s best loose-head props, sustained a calf injury in the pre-tournament warm-up victory over Scotland in August.
Forwards coach William Servat said Baille was “incredibly fresh”.
“His injury certainly deprived him of some of the pre-tournament build-up,” Servat said.
“But he had the chance to work one-on-one with a physical trainer from the France team.
“I feel he is even better than before he was injured. He’s lost a bit of weight and he has regenerated mentally. He’s really up for it.”
Danty sat out the opening two matches of the World Cup with a thigh injury, but has been given the green light to return to a team that closely resembles the one that beat New Zealand 27-13 in the opening game.
A second-string side struggled past Uruguay 27-12 last week, and only three from that team keep their place: wing Louis Bielle-Biarrey, lock Cameron Woki and backrow Anthony Jelonch.
“Louis’ performances speak for themselves,” said coach Fabien Galthie of Bielle-Biarrey.
“Since he has been with us he has been very good, he deserves to wear the jersey again.
“He’s someone who has gone into the dressing room to hunt out his jersey. He’s present at every moment.”
No.8 Gregory Alldritt, a key player for France, is rested with a painful knee, with Jelonch taking his place alongside flanks Charles Ollivon and Francois Cros.
“We took the decision with him during yesterday’s training,” Galthie said of the decision to omit Alldritt.
“Greg felt a little discomfort in his knee so will be rested.”
Antoine Dupont will lead the side from scrumhalf, yet to lose a match on home soil when leading the team in 18 Tests. His only career loss as captain came against Ireland earlier this year in Dublin.
“Quite a few players were rested following the opening match. The next match against Italy is in a couple of weeks so we put out the best team based on current form to achieve the best result,” said Dupont.
Matthieu Jalibert starts at flyhalf, with Danty pairing up with Gael Fickou in midfield.
The back three comprises Bielle-Biarrey and Damian Penaud on the wings and Thomas Ramos at fullback.
Thibaud Flament links up with Woki in the second row, while Baille packs down alongside hooker Peato Mauvaka and tighthead prop Uini Atonio.
France will be massive favourites going into the match against Namibia, the African side having already lost 8-52 to Italy and 3-71 to the All Blacks in Pool A.
France wrap up their group stage with a game against Italy in Lyon on October 6.
France: 15 Thomas Ramos; 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Anthony Jelonch, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Thibaud Flament, 4 Cameron Woki, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Paul Boudehent, 21 Baptiste Couilloud, 22 Yoram Moefana, 23 Melvyn Jaminet
Date: Thursday, September 21
Venue: Stade de Marseille, Marseille
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 21.00 CAT)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland) & Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)