France have recalled scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde but named utility back Cedric Heymans on the bench for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations Championship title decider against Wales in Cardiff.
Elissalde wins the battle for the number-nine jersey over Dimitri Yachvili, who impressed in Sunday’s 25-13 win over Italy. Toulouse star Heymans was expected to return to the starting XV after being rested for the Italy game, but he cannot oust Anthony Floch at full-back and must settle for a place among the replacements.
Elsewhere in the backs, David Skrela gets the nod over Francois Trinh-Duc at fly-half, while there are returns for in-form winger Vincent Clerc and centre Damien Traille.
Head coach Marc Lievremont keeps the same front five that started against Italy, but there are two changes in the back row.
Julien Bonnaire is promoted from the bench and is selected at number eight, while flanker Thierry Dusautoir also returns.
Montpellier youngster Fulgence Ouedraogo was expected to drop to the bench but he is retained, meaning Elvis Vermeulen – recalled to the squad after being sidelined with broken ribs since the opening-round victory against Scotland – is named as a substitute.
Clermont-Auvergne number eight Vermeulen scored the last-gasp try that sealed the title for France, on points difference over Ireland, in the final game of last season’s Six Nations.
Les Bleus need to beat the Welsh by at least 20 points this weekend to retain the title they have won for the past two years.
They have beaten Scotland, Ireland and Italy so far this tournament, with their only defeat coming at home to England.