France ring changes for 6 Nations clash

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made eight changes for Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy at the Stadio Olimpico.

France ring changes for 6 Nations clash

Saint-Andre has rung the changes following his side’s 20-13 defeat at home to Wales as France look to record their second win in this year’s tournament.

Five of the changes involve the backs as Sebastien Tillous-Borde comes in for scrum-half Morgan Parra, while Scott Spedding returns at full-back at Brice Dulin’s expense.

Noa Nakaitaci is set to start in place of the injured Sofiane Guitoune (hamstring) on the wing and there is also a new centre partnership as Gael Fickou and Maxime Mermoz start.

Changes in the forwards line see Nicolas Mas, Alexandre Flanquart and Loann Goujon all named in the starting XV as Rabah Slimani, Romain Taofifenua and Damien Chouly drop to the bench. France sit fourth in the table with their only victory coming after they saw off Scotland 15-8 in their opening match, then followed an 18-11 defeat to Ireland in Dublin.

Saint-Andre explained the reasoning behind his decisions for some of the changes. He said of his choice to select Spedding in place of Dulin at full-back: “Scott has refreshed (the team) mentally and physically. He found energy. His kicking game can also be used to complement Camille Lopez. And today, we believe that Scott is ahead of Brice.”

Meanwhile Scotland head coach Vern Cotter believes the shock of losing centre Alex Dunbar for up to nine months will bring his squad closer. The Glasgow back was due to start for the Dark Blues when they take on England at Twickenham tomorrow – but now faces the real possibility that he could miss this year’s World Cup after rupturing knee ligaments.

The 24-year-old will definitely sit out the rest of the RBS 6 Nations after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament following a cruel training-ground slip.

It is the latest blow to hit a Scots squad short on luck.

They have lost all three championship clashes so far and have already seen the involvement of giant lock Richie Gray and veteran wing Sean Lamont cut short by injuries. Stand-off Finn Russell was also forced to miss last month’s last-gasp 22-19 defeat to Italy after he was handed a retrospective ban for tipping overWales’ Dan Biggar.

But Cotter hopes Dunbar’s set-back will unite his men ahead of their clash with the Auld Enemy.

He said: “I think we can improve. We lost a bit of momentum after the Wales game with Finn being suspended and Richie getting injured.

“We’ve got other injuries as well. Sean is down too. But the guys are adapting. There is a lot of character in the team.

“We’ve lost Alex Dunbar just before we got on the plane but I think it hastightened the team up and that’s important for the Clan-ish nature of this game and this group of individuals.”

Matt Scott has now taken Dunbar’s slot for this weekend’s battle while Dunbar faces up to the reality it will be six to nine months before he can think about adding to his 14 caps.

He was taking part in the final training session at Murrayfield before the team jetted south when he fell to the turf clutching his knee.

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