Romain Ntamack selected to make France debut against Wales

Jacques Brunel names 19-year-old at inside centre with Mathieu Bastareaud excluded

Romain Ntamack  (R) has been named to start at 12 for France ahead of Mathieu Bastareaud (L). Photograph: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/Getty/AFP

Romain Ntamack (R) has been named to start at 12 for France ahead of Mathieu Bastareaud (L). Photograph: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/Getty/AFP

 

Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud has been left out of the France team for Friday’s Six Nations opener against Wales in Paris.

The experienced defensive linchpin makes way as Les Bleus head coach Jacques Brunel hands a Test debut to 19-year-old Toulouse centre Romain Ntamack alongside Wesley Fofana in midfield.

Ntamack is the son of former France wing Emile Ntamack, who made his Test debut against Wales 25 years ago and won 46 caps.

Ntamack has been a key figure behind Toulouse’s resurgence in the Top 14 and Heineken Champions Cup this term, helping them to secure a European quarter-final appointment with Racing 92 later this season.

Brunel has announced a team that also sees a call-up for another newcomer in Montpellier lock Paul Willemse.

Elsewhere, experienced Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Morgan Parra returns to the starting XV and he is partnered at half-back by his club colleague Camille Lopez.

There are also opportunities for the likes of Toulouse full-back Maxime Medard, Bordeaux-Begles prop Jefferson Poirot and Clermont flanker Arthur Iturria in a side skippered by hooker Guilhem Guirado.

France have not won the Six Nations title since 2010, while they arrive in this season’s tournament following a disappointing autumn campaign that saw them beaten by South Africa and Fiji.

France: Maxime Medard; Damian Penaud, Wesley Fofana, Romain Ntamack, Yohann Huget; Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado, Uini Atonio; Sébastien Vahaamahina, Paul Willemse, Wenceslas Lauret, Arthur Itturia, Louis Picamoles. Replacements: Julien Marchand, Dany Priso, Demba Bamba, Felix Lambey, Gregory Alldritt, Baptiste Serin, Gael Fickou, Geoffrey Doumayrou.

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