Influential French captain Thierry Dusautoir returns to action for his team’s final warm-up game against Scotland at Stade de France on Saturday.
The 33-year-old flank, who skippered France into the Rugby World Cup final in New Zealand 4 years ago, has been sidelined for a month with a knee injury and missed the 1st 2 preparation games against England.
But with the Rugby World Cup opener against Italy looming on 19 September, coach Philippe Saint-Andre deemed it appropriate to recall his right-hand man on the pitch.
“He is in top form and he is important for us. He has prepared himself well for this match,” he said.
2011 World Rugby player of the year Dusautoir, who will win his 76th cap, will replace Bernard le Roux in the back row, 1 of only 2 changes to the team that started the 25 / 20 win over England.
The other sees lock Yoann Maestri rested to fully recover from bruised ribs with his place going to Alexandre Flanquart.
“We did not want to take any risks,” said Saint-Andre of Maestri’s injury.
The rest of the line-up is the same with Frederic Michalak and Sebastien Tillous-Borde given another run in the halfbacks and the centres, wings and fullback are also retained.
“This team could very well be like the 1 that will take on Italy,” Saint-Andre said.
Apart from Italy, France face Ireland, Canada and Romania in Group D in England with the top 2 going through to the quarterfinals.
France: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Frédéric Michalak, 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Damien Chouly, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (Captain), 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Nicolas Mas, 19 Bernard le Roux, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Morgan Parra, 22 Rémi Talès, 23 Alexandre Dumoulin.
Date: Saturday 5 September
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-Off: 21:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 19:00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle (England), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)