France pick five uncapped players for Wales Test
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: France coach Fabien Galthie on Wednesday named five uncapped players in his 31-man squad to face Wales later this month.
Galthie’s men host Wayne Pivac’s side on October 24 as a warm-up match ahead of the postponed Six Nations fixture against Ireland and the newly-created Nations Cup, which has replaced the scheduled November Tests cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Prop Georges-Henri Colombe Reazel and centre Olivier Klemenczak have been rewarded for their performances as Racing 92 reached the European Champions Cup Final.
Tighthead Colombe Reazel, 22, started both the quarter and semifinal European wins for Laurent Travers’ side.
“He’s a young player who is discovering our environment,” Galthie said.
“He’s totally the type of player we want, he has proved his worth since the start of the season. If Travers trusts him it’s everything but by chance.”
Klemenczak, 24, has benefitted from the injury to Henry Chavancy and the suspension of Kurtley Beale by wearing the No.12 shirt in three of his club’s four matches this term.
“He’s been consistently good. The general performance of his teammates has helped. He’s been playing a lot,” Galthie said of the centre.
Lyon lock Killian Geraci, Toulouse No 8 Selevasio Tolofua and La Rochelle wing Arthur Retiere are also international newcomers named in the squad.
The French Rugby Federation and Top 14 clubs have been at loggerheads regarding the fixture, the latter arguing it was one week too many on national duty.
But les Bleus team manager Raphael Ibanez said the discussions have had no effect on the coaching staff’s preparations.
“It hasn’t unsettled us, we have tried to keep the link between the coaching staff despite the public health conditions which have forced us to adapt,” former Test captain Ibanez said.
“For the political climate, it’s been the same state of mind.”
Retiere replaces Damian Penaud who suffered an ankle injury training with club Clermont last week.
Prop and former skipper Jefferson Poirot is omitted after announcing his retirement earlier this year while Stade Francais’ in-form back-rower Sekou Macalou misses out due to a hamstring problem.
Scrumhalf Baptiste Serin is included despite missing two Toulon matches with a shoulder injury and is set to feature for his club against Montpellier this weekend.
After the Wales friendly and Ireland Test, France play Fiji, Scotland and Italy between November 15-28 in Group B of the Nations Cup.
They will round up their unsettled 2020 calendar season with a finals play-off on December 5-6 against a team from Group A comprising England, Ireland and Wales.
Forwards: Cyril Baille (Toulouse) Jean-Baptiste Gros (Toulon), Julien Marchand (Toulouse), Camille Chat (Racing 92), Peato Mauvaka (Toulouse), Demba Bamba (Lyon), Georges-Henri Colombe Reazel (Racing 92), Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92), Paul Willemse (Montpellier), Killian Geraci (Lyon), Romain Taofifenua (Toulon), Charles Ollivon (Toulon – captain), Francois Cros (Toulouse), Cameron Woki (Bordeaux-Begles), Dylan Cretin (Lyon), Gregory Alldritt (La Rochelle), Selevasio Tolofua (Toulouse).
Backs: Antoine Dupont (Toulouse), Baptiste Serin (Toulon), Romain Ntamack (Toulouse), Matthieu Jalibert (Bordeaux-Begles), Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92), Arthur Vincent (Montpellier), Gael Fickou (Stade Francais), Olivier Klemenczak (Racing 92), Vincent Rattez (Montpellier), Arthur Retiere (La Rochelle), Teddy Thomas (Racing 92), Anthony Bouthier (Montpellier), Thomas Ramos (Toulouse).