Published: Thu, February 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Italy tweaks side for France encounter

Italy tweaks side for France encounter

Team (15-1): Hugo Bonneval; Benjamin Fall, Mathieu Bastareaud, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Remy Grosso; Lionel Beauxis, Maxime Machenaud; Marco Tauleigne, Yacouba Camara, Wenceslas Lauret, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Paul Gabrillagues, Rabah Slimani, Guilhelm Guirado (capt), Jefferson Poirot.

Italy might be seen as the flawless opponent for France to bounce back from their opening defeats in the Six Nations, but their lack of discipline, off the pitch this time, will make their task much harder as they trade in troubled waters.

Benjamin Fall, Remy Grosso, Hugo Bonneval and Paul Gabrillagues also come in to the starting line-up. Toulon's Bastareaud replaces Remi Lamerat of Clermont at outside centre as four of the five changes are in the backs.

"Mathieu (Bastareaud) brings us his distinctive style of play and his experience", Brunel said.

"Like I said, there are spots up for grabs. I'm expecting them to show initiative and enthusiasm".

Brunel has high expectations for Bastareaud, who is in the squad after his ban for making homophobic comments in a Champions Cup game expired. "He seems to have taken on a new dimension (with Toulon)".

France have made five changes for their Six Nations match against Italy in Marseille tomorrow, with coach Jacques Brunel's side looking to stem an eight-match winless streak amid disciplinary problems.

Mbanda takes over on the side of the scrum from Brahm Steyn, who has been dropped from the matchday 23 after Italy lost 56-19 to Ireland a fortnight ago.

Treviso pair Bigi and Quaglio drop to the bench, alongside second rower George Biagi, now a substitute after missing the trip to Dublin.

Just three players remain from their last win against France back in 2013, with captain Sergio Parisse joined by Leonardo Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni in that performance.

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