France name nine uncapped players for November Tests

Paris (AFP) –


France head coach Fabien Galthie named nine uncapped players on Monday in his squad for the November Tests.

Les Bleus host Argentina on November 6 in Paris, Georgia on November 14 in Bordeaux and New Zealand six days later at the Stade de France.

Galthie was able to pick a first-choice side after he was forced to take a second-string squad to Australia in July due to a clash with the Top 14 knock-out stages.

Bordeaux-Begles prop Thierry Paiva, Toulouse lock Thibaud Flament, Castres second-row Florent Vanverberghe, Montpellier forward Florian Verhaeghe are the new faces in the pack.

"They perform well with their clubs. They have profiles that interest us especially in the lineout. They perform well in that sector," Galthie said of Flament and Verhaeghe.

"It will be the first step for them, to put their hands up during training before facing Argentina and then we'll see."

Paiva's club team-mates in scrum-half Maxime Lucu and full-back Romain Buros as well as Racing 92 winger Donovan Taofifenua, Toulouse youngster Matthis Lebel and Clermont centre Tana Vili are the rookies among the backs.

Captain Charles Ollivon is missing due to a long-term knee injury with centre Gael Fickou, hooker Julian Marchand, scrum-half Antoine Dupont, No. 8 Gregory Alldritt as well as flanker Anthony Jelonch, who stood in during the Wallabies series, as the possible replacements.

The stand-in captain is expected to be named next week after Ollivon, who took over the role from Guilhem Guirado following the 2019 Rugby World Cup, announces it to the squad late on Sunday.

"Charles participated in the discussion with us since the question was asked due to his injury," Galthie said.

"He spoke with the five players who we've identified as leaders, his allies, who have shown their worth over the last two years."

- Villiere, Le Roux concerns -

Team manager Raphael Ibanez said France also had injury worries over winger Gabin Villiere (thigh) and South African-born lock Bernard Le Roux, who needs to have his eardrum assessed.

Bernard Le Roux has made 47 Test apperances since his France debut in 2013
Bernard Le Roux has made 47 Test apperances since his France debut in 2013 Nicolas TUCAT AFP/File

"There are two alerts and there are two players who could be ruled out," he said.

"Even if we hope they don't, for them and us."

Second-choice scrum-half Baptiste Serin is absent, with a shoulder issue, as is tight-head prop Mohamed Haouas, who has a thigh problem.

Racing 92 hooker Camille Chat and Toulon fly-half Louis Carbonel are ommitted with Castres' Gaetan Barlot and Pau's Antoine Hastoy taking their places.

France squad

Backs (19)

Romain Buros, Brice Dulin, Melvyn Jaminet, Thomas Ramos; Gabin Villiere, Damian Penaud, Matthis Lebel, Donovan Taofifenua; Gael Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa, Yoram Moefana, Jonathan Danty, Tani Vili; Romain Ntamack, Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Hastoy; Antoine Dupont, Baptiste Couilloud, Maxime Lucu

Forwards (23)

Gregory Alldritt, Anthony Jelonch, Cameron Woki, Dylan Cretin, Francois Cros, Sekou Macalou, Ibrahim Diallo; Paul Willemse, Bernard Le Roux, Romain Taofifenua, Thibaud Flament, Killian Geraci, Florent Vanverberghe, Florian Verhaeghe; Demba Bamba, Wilfrid Hounkpatin, Uini Atonio, Julian Marchand, Peato Mauvaka, Gaetan Barlot, Cyril Baille, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Thierry Paiva