PARIS – Prop Rabah Slimani and full-back Benjamin Fall have been named in France's starting lineup to face Fiji in Paris this weekend, the French Rugby Federation announced on Thursday.
Slimani takes Cedate Gomes Sa's place at tight-head and Fall comes in for the injured Maxime Medard at full-back for Saturday's Test match at the Stade de France.
Coach Jacques Brunel explained at a press conference that Slimani, who will win his 50th cap for his country against the Pacific Islanders, deservesstarting berth based on his performances as a substitute in the two previous November Tests against South Africa and Argentina.
“He's done well when he's come on. He's been solid at scrum-time and more active in open play as we had asked him to do,” Brunel said. “It (his) selection is to encourage him to make sure he keeps going in the same direction,” he added.
Clermont front-rower Slimani's last international start came against England in March.
Medard suffered concussion in last Saturday's victory over the Pumas, which was Les Bleus' first win in more than eight months.
There are four new faces on the replacements bench including uncapped 20-year-old prop Demba Bamba and rookie hooker Julien Marchand.
The France team is (15-1):
Benjamin Fall, Teddy Thomas, Mathieu Bastareaud, Gael Fickou, Yoann Huget, Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin, Louis Picamoles, Arthur Iturria, Wenceslas Lauret, Yoann Maestri, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Jefferson Poirot
Julien Marchand, Dany Priso, Demba Bamba, Felix Lambey, Kelian Galletier, Antoine Dupont, Anthony Belleau, Geoffrey Doumayrou
Agence France-Presse (AFP)