France make five changes for match against Italy in Six Nations

Jacques Brunel has made five changes to France’s starting XV for their Test against Italy in Marseille on Friday night.

It will be the first Six Nations Championship home Test that France have played outside of Paris and four of those changes come in the backline.

Brunel dropped several players from his squad after they went out in Edinburgh following the 32-26 round-two defeat to Scotland.

France’s leading try-scorer in the competition so far, Teddy Thomas, was one of those released and as a result, Benjamin Fall takes the 14 jersey.

Rémy Grosso replaces Virimi Vakatawa on the other wing and Hugo Bonneval completes the back-three unit.

Mathieu Bastareaud arrives into the midfield and takes the place of Remi Lamerat, who was also dropped from the squad.

The Toulon centre will partner La Rochelle’s Geoffrey Doumayrou in the midfield and, as was the case at Murrayfield, Maxime Machenaud and Lionel Beauxis combine in the half-backs.

Les Bleus’ pack remains largely unchanged with Guilhem Guirado leading the side from the front row. Guirado is joined by Jefferson Poirot and Rabah Slimani in the front-three.

Stade Francais Paris lock, Paul Gabrillagues is the only new face in the forwards and he arrives to partner Sébastien Vahaamahina in the second-row instead of Arthur Iturria.

As part of Brunel’s replacements, 20-year-old scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud could make his international debut with four others set for their first appearances of the 2018 Six Nations Championship appearances including François Trinh-Duc and Gael Fickou.

France’s opponents Italy will name their starting XV and bench at 1pm on Wednesday.

France: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Benjamin Fall, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou , 11 Rémy Grosso, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 1 Jefferson Poirot, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 3 Rabah Sliman, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 7 Yacouba Camara, 8 Marco Tauleigne.

Replacements: 16 Adrien Pelissié, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Romain Taofifénua, 20 Kélian Galletier, 21 Baptiste Couilloud, 22 François Trinh-Du, 23 Gaël Fickou.