Italy tweaks side for France encounter

Adjust Comment Print

Brunel dropped several players who went out drinking into the early hours without his permission following the 32-26 defeat against Scotland on February 11.

Winger Remy Grosso replaced the disappointing Virimi Vakatawa and Benjamin Fall came in for Teddy Thomas after France's only try scorer in the championship was left out of the squad after several players were sanctioned for going out late in Edinburgh 10 days ago.

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

He was part of Brunel's initial pre-Six Nations squad announced in January before being handed the ban for insulting Treviso's Sebastian Negri in a European Champions Cup match for Toulon.

"If we win on Saturday, I think the players will go and ask Jacques if we can go out for a drink", he told French sports daily L'Equipe yesterday.

"Like I said, there are spots up for grabs". "He seems to have taken on a new dimension (with Toulon)".

Conor O'Shea has made three changes to Italy's starting XV for their Six Nations clash with France in Marseille on Friday night.

Ghiraldini, who plays his club rugby in France, has been alternating with Luca Bigi as hooker for Italy and will earn his 92nd cap after being given the nod. Italy have conceded 102 points in losing their opening pair of Six Nations games to England at home and Ireland away.

Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 George Biagi, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Carlo Canni, 23 Jayden Hayward.

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.

"We are expecting an incredible atmosphere in Marseille in a special stadium".

Hugo Bonneval replaces Geoffrey Palis at fullback, while Benjamin Fall and Remy Grosso are selected on the wings.