De Villiers back in French front row

 

France coach Bernard Laporte had recalled prop Pieter de Villiers for the Grand Slam clash with Ireland in Paris this weekend.

De Villiers missed out on the trip to Scotland last month with an ankle injury, but the Stade Francais front-row returns to face the Irish as his team attempt to seal the Six Nations championship and their first clean sweep since 1998.

The South Africa-born player is the only change from the team that won in Murrayfield.

Lock David Auradou also failed to make the 22-10 triumph, and is forced to sit on the bench as Laporte keeps faith with second-row pairing Fabien Pelous and Olivier Brouzet.

France will be led by their inspirational skipper Fabien Galthie. With half-back partner Gerald Merceron also in top form, France will start odds-on favourites.

If France slip up, it would allow England the chance to snatch the championship with victory against Italy in the final match of the competition in Rome on Sunday.

France:15-Nicolas Brusque; 14-Aurelien Rougerie, 13-Tony Marsh, 12-Damien Traille, 11-David Bory; 10-Gerald Merceron, 9-Fabien Galthie (captain); 8-Imanol Harinordoquy, 7-Olivier Magne, 6-Serge Betsen, 5-Olivier Brouzet, 4-Fabien Pelous, 3-Pieter de Villiers, 2-Raphael Ibanez, 1-Jean-Jacques Crenca.

Replacements: 16-Olivier Azam, 17-Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18- David Auradou, 19-Remy Martin, 20-Pierre Mignoni, 21-Francois Gelez, 22-Jimmy Marlu.