Bonneval to make France debut against Italy

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has named Stade Francais fullback Hugo Bonneval to make his France debut on the wing against Italy.

Bonneval, 23, is the son of 18-times capped international Eric Bonneval, and gets his chance to emulate his father after an impressive season so far in the Top 14.

He has been with the France squad since the beginning of preparations for this year’s tournament but was not on the matchday list for last week’s win against England.

However, while habitually a fullback, he will start on the left wing against the Italians.

“He is more accustomed to playing at fullback but I saw him play on the wing against London Irish (in the European Challenge Cup),” said Saint-Andre.

“He was exceptional and was named man of the match.”

His introduction is one of three changes made to the side that beat England 26-24 in a dramatic opening game last weekend, with hooker Dimitri Szarzewski coming in for Benjamin Kayser and Yoann Maestri replacing Alexandre Flanquart in the second row.

The 31-year-old Szarzewski, capped 76 times, impressed after coming on against England, setting up the game’s decisive try, scored by Gael Fickou, while Maestri will play with Flanquart left out of the matchday squad altogether.

Fickou, who had been tipped to start after his heroics last weekend, is again among the replacements as Saint-Andre looks for his team to build on their fine start to the Six Nations.

“We can’t start swaggering about because we won one match,” said the coach. “We had a difficult 2013. On the contrary, we need to show the desire to improve, to be more effective and to build on last week by recording a second victory.

“We know that, in the Six Nations, there are no easy matches. The Italians showed us that last year (beating France 23-18 in Rome), and they posed a lot of problems to the Welsh in their first match.”

Italy were beaten 23-15 in their opening match in Cardiff last weekend.


Brice Dulin; Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval; Jules Plisson, Jean-Marc Doussain; Louis Picamoles, Bernard Le Roux, Yannick Nyanga; Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape (capt); Nicolas Mas, Dimitri Szarzewski, Thomas Domingo

Replacements: Benjamin Kayser, Yannick Forestier, Rabah Slimani, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly, Maxime Machenaud, Francois Trinh-Duc, Gael Fickou

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