RugbyU: France ring the changes for Italy showdown

RugbyU: France ring the changes for Italy showdown

MARCOUSSIS, France - France have made wholesale changes for their Six Nations Championship match against Italy on Sunday following their disappointing defeat to Wales two weeks ago.

The side announced on Thursday by coach Philippe Saint-Andre shows now fewer than eight changes from the starting line-up against the Welsh in Paris, when the French looked out of sorts and succumbed 13-20.

Four of those changes are forced on him through injuries to key players, but Saint-Andre had already hinted that changes were in the air when he blasted his players for not living up to their hype and "hiding behind smokescreen" after Wales had killed off France's Six Nations hopes.

"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, come 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 Spededing returns in place of Brice Dulin after the latter's ineffectual display in Paris.

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