France make five changes for Georgia
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: France head coach Fabien Galthie on Friday made five changes to his team to host Georgia this weekend.
Galthie kept faith in flyhalves Matthieu Jalibert and Romain Ntamack in the backline.
Former Les Bleus captain Galthie, 52, has retained Jalibert at flyhalf and Ntamack, the regular choice at No. 10, at inside centre to face the Lelos in Bordeaux on Sunday.
Galthie is searching for a settled lineup as he looks ahead to a clash with the mighty All Blacks on November 20.
Ntamack was moved to midfield last week after injuries to Virimi Vakatawa and Arthur Vincent but the combination failed to spark much creativity in the 29-20 victory over the Pumas.
“They played 50 minutes together with a feeling of unfinished business. We start again with a week more of experience, analysis, work,” Galthie told reporters.
“It should help us to perform better,” he added.
Galthie hands a debut to Toulouse wing Matthis Lebel instead of Gabin Villiere and Romain Taofifenua, who replaces Paul Willemse, will partner Cameron Woki at lock.
Woki, 23, is set for his maiden Test start at second row in the city where he plays his club rugby alongside Jalibert.
“Cameron Woki is our lineout captain, whatever position he plays, he’s in charge of the lineout,” Galthie said.
“He has a hybrid profile, with a physicality allowing him to play No. 4,” he added.
No. 8 Gregory Alldritt and flank Sekou Macalou start with second-row Thibaud Flament, who made his international bow last weekend, and loose forward Francois Cros on the bench.
The final alteration is Alldritt’s La Rochelle teammate Uini Atonio coming in for Montpellier’s Mohamed Hoauas as the 152kg tight-head prop starts a Test for the first time since February 2019, seven months before the Rugby World Cup.
“With La Rochelle his place has been unquestionable since some seasons,” Galthie said.
“He’s got experience. He missed the World Cup due to a neck operation, but has progressed since then,” he added.
France: 15 Melvyn Jaminet; 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Romain Ntamack, 11 Matthis Lebel; 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain); 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Sekou Macalou, 6 Anthony Jelonch; 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Cameron Woki; 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyrille Baille
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Thibaud Flament, 20 Paul Willemse, 21 Francois Cros, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Jonathan Danty.
Date: Sunday, November 14
Venue: Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux
Kick-off: 14.00 (13.00; 17.00 Georgia time)
Referee: Damon Murphy (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson (England) & Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)