France make eight Six Nations change for Italy

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made eight changes to the team that lost to Wales for this week’s Six Nations Championship match against Italy.

Four of the changes have been forced changes due to injury but after the loss to Wales Saint-Andre had hinted that there would be changes.

Saint-Andre blasted his players after their last outing for not living up to their hype and “hiding behind smokescreen”.

“I’ve been covering for them for three years. The France jersey should bring out your best, you should be a gladiator,” he said.

The most significant change in the pack sees experienced prop Nicolas Mas, 34, with 76 caps to his name, coming in for Rabah Slimani who drops to the bench.

Also dropped are No.8 Damien Chouly and lock Romain Taofifenua, both found wanting against the Welsh. Their places are taken by Loann Goujon and Alexandre Flanquart.

Elsewhere, Saint-Andre keeps faith with Camille Lopez at fly-half, but wing Noa Nakaitaci makes his debut in place of the injured Sofiane Guitoun, while at centre, the untried pairing of Maxime Mermoz and 20-year-old Gael Fickou replace Remi Lamerat and Wesley Fofana, both ruled out trough injury.

At full back, Scott Spedding returns in place of Brice Dulin after the latter’s ineffectual display in Paris.

France

Scott Spedding; Yoann Huget, Gael Fickou, Maxime Mermoz, Noa Nakaitaci; Camille Lopez, Sebastian Tillous-Borde; Loann Goujon, Bernard Le Roux, Thierry Dusautoir (capt); Yoann Maestri, Alexandre Flanquart; Nicolas Mas, Guilhem Guirado, Eddy Ben Arous

Replacements: Benjamin Kayser, Vincent Debaty, Rabah Slimani, Romain Taofifenua, Damien Chouly, Rory Kockott, Jules Plisson, Mathieu Bastareaud

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