France have been hit hard by a COVID-19 outbreak which has led to 10 players being ruled out of the clash against Scotland this weekend.
The two biggest absentees are captain Charles Ollivon and livewire scrum-half Antoine Dupont.
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Front Row: Dorian Aldegheri, Pierre Bourgarit and Uini Atonio
France's front row depth will be put to the test once again with the two first-choice hookers Julien Marchand and Camille Chat both ruled out along with Peato Mauvaka. Pierre Bourgarit looks certain to take the starting jumper with Teddy Baubigny taking a place on the bench.
With both starting props Cyril Baille and Mohamed Haouas missing the clash, Fabin Galthie's selection headache has been eased with the return to fitness of the highly-rated Demba Bamba. It will be interesting too see who Galthie will entrust to front up to the powerful Scottish front row but we have predicted that Dorian Aldegheri and Uini Atonio would line up either side of Bourgarit. Hassane Kolinger would provide cover on loosehead off the bench along with Demba Bamba at tighthead.
Second Row: Bernard Le Roux and Paul Willemse
Bernard Le Roux and Paul Willemse have both tested negative throughout the testing process and are set to continue in their roles. However, Romain Taofifenua will miss the clash opening a place on the bench. The uncapped Cyril Cazeaux has been called up once again to the squad but he is likely to wait even longer for his debut with Killian Geraci coming onto the bench.
Back Row: Anthony Jelonch, Cameron Woki and Gregory Alldritt
Charles Ollivon is a massive blow for Les Bleus and while his presence will be felt and missed, France do have the depth to cover his absence.
Anthony Jelonch had a strong game against Ireland and is set to keep the #6 jersey ahead of Dylan Cretin while Cameron Woki comes in to replace the captain. All three players are well within a shout for a start with Ollivon out and the trio are all excellent at the lineout - a pivotal role Ollivon plays for France.
Gregory Alldritt shows no sign of letting that #8 jersey go.
Halfbacks: Baptiste Serin (c) and Matthieu Jalibert
Baptiste Serin is set to come into the starting line up and fill to roles within the side taking over the captaincy as well as the #9 jersey. Serin has a rare chance to start with Dupont ruled out and after impressing in the same role during the Autumn Nations Cup. Serin captained France during the Autumn Nations Cup and having played club rugby with Jalibert before his switch to Toulon his inclusion at scrumhalf looks the most straightforward. Dupont's absence is massive for Les Bleus but Serin is a class player in his own right.
Midfielders: Gael Fickou and Yoram Moefana
With Arthur Vincent out with COVID, the #13 jersey is well and truly up for grabs with three players in the running for a start alongside Gael Fickou. We have backed the youngest of the three to claim the jersey in Yoram Moefana with Jonathan Danty and Pierre-Louis Barassi missing out.
The #13 jersey is arguably the toughest to pick as the two younger options, Barassi and Moefana, are superb athletes while Danty provides some added grunt to the backs and is also in excellent form.
Back Three: Donovan Taofifenua, Anthony Bouthier and Damian Penaud
The absence of Brice Dulin provides an opportunity for Anthony Bouthier to reclaim the starting 15 jersey. The Montpellier back has been playing flyhalf most of the time for his club and was an unused subsitute against Ireland covering flyhalf and fullback on the bench. With Dulin out, Bouthier looks the likiest start with Thomas Ramos covering fullback and flyhalf on the bench.
Gabin Villiere looked to nail down the starting #11 jersey but he will miss this weekend's clash providing Donovan Taofifenua with a chance to make his test debut. Both Teddy Thomas and Damian Penaud have been used almost exclusively on the right wing for France which leads us to believe that only one of them will get the nod for a start. Thomas will likely feature on the bench.
- Dorian Aldegheri
- Pierre Bourgarit
- Uini Atonio
- Bernard Le Roux
- Paul Willemse
- Anthony Jelonch
- Cameron Woki
- Gregory Alldritt
- Baptiste Serin (c)
- Matthieu Jalibert
- Donovan Taofifenua
- Gael Fickou
- Yoram Moefana
- Damian Penaud
- Anthony Bouthier
Replacements: Teddy Baubigny, Hassane Kolinger, Demba Bamba, Killian Geraci , Dylan Cretin, Sébastien Bezy, Thomas Ramos and Teddy Thomas.