New French coach Guy Noves has made a bold choice in Sevens stalwart Virimi Vakatawa in his new-look team to face Italy in their opening Six Nations rugby match in Paris.
Winger Vakatawa, who has not played any 15-man rugby since 2013, will make his first appearance on Saturday at the Stade de France in a side containing four uncapped players.
Sebastien Bezy also makes his debut at halfback and will pair up with No.10 Jules Plisson in the absence of the injured Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc who was deemed not fit enough last month when Noves assembled his squad.
Centre Jonathan Danty and lock Paul Jedrasiak are the other uncapped players.
Noves took over from Philippe Saint-Andre after last year’s Rugby World Cup.
Noves, who pledged to rejuvenate France to build a team capable of winning the World Cup in 2019, says “it’s important that all my players turn their attention to the future”.
France: Maxime Medard, Hugo Bonneval, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Virimi Vakatawa, Jules Plisson, Sebastien Bezy, Louis Picamoles, Damien Chouly, Wenceslas Lauret, Yoann Maestri, Paul Jedrasiak, Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Eddy Ben Arous. Res: Camille Chat, Uini Atonio, Jefferson Poirot, Alexandre Flanquart, Yacouba Camara, Maxime Machenaud, Jean-Marc Doussain, Maxime Mermoz.