France tweak for Japan showdown
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Scrumhalf Maxime Lucu will replace World Rugby player of the year Antoine Dupont in France’s side to face Japan in the year-end Nations Series this weekend, Les Bleus head coach Fabien Galthie said on Friday.
Captain Dupont will miss Sunday’s game in Toulouse after receiving a four-week ban for a dangerous challenge in last Saturday’s win over South Africa, a record 12th straight Test victory for the country.
There are two other changes from the Springboks success as loose-head prop Reda Wardi comes in for Cyrill Baille and lock Romain Taofifenua replaces Thibaud Flament.
Baille has been ruled out with a hernia and Flament suffered concussion last weekend.
“We’ve lost important players for this game, including our captain due to the red card,” Galthie told reporters
“We have to get on with it,” he added
Wing Damian Penaud starts despite pulling up during Thursday’s heavy training session with a knee issue.
“If we train at high intensity, we have less chance to get injured in a match,” Galthie said.
“Sometimes, if we’re a little less committed, a little more tired, then you risk getting injured.
“That’s what happened to Damian, who maybe hadn’t got over the South Africa match,” he added.
La Rochelle’s Wardi will make his first Test start after coming off the bench on the half-hour mark in the last weekend’s win over the Boks.
“I don’t see where his limits are,” Galthie said.
“In the 50 minutes against two South African tight-heads, he found himself, he surprised himself.
“He could have been man of the match, I would have voted for him,” ex-Les Bleus skipper Galthie added.
On the bench, 25-year-old Montpellier lock Florian Verhaeghe is set to make his international debut in the town where he started his senior career.
Elsewhere among the replacements, loose-head Dany Priso and scrumhalf Baptiste Couilloud, who scored the winning try against the Brave Blossoms in July’s second Test, come in.
France: 15 Thomas Ramos; 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Yoram Moefana; 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Maxime Lucu; 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Anthony Jelonch; 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Cameron Woki; 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Reda Wardi
Replacement: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Florian Verhaeghe, 20 Bastien Chalureau, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Baptiste Couilloud, 23 Matthieu Jalibert
Date: Sunday, November 20
Venue: Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse
Kick-off: 14.00 (13.00 GMT; 22.00 Japan time)
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland) & Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Tom Foley (Ireland)