British & Irish Lions

France centre Vakatawa back for Wales test

 George North of Wales and Virimi Vakatawa of France (Getty)
George North of Wales and Virimi Vakatawa of France (Getty)

Paris - Barnstorming centre Virimi Vakatawa has handed France a massive boost after being named in the team to play Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday.

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Vakatawa, of Fijian heritage, has been one of this season's form players, melding a brutally powerful game with offloads and quick footwork.

But he sustained a triceps injury in France's opening 24-17 win over England and sat out the 35-22 victory over Italy.

Vakatawa will pair up with ex-France under-20s captain Arthur Vincent in midfield, Gael Fickou sliding out on to the wing in the absence of Damian Penaud and Vincent Rattez. Anthony Bouthier and Teddy Thomas complete the back three.

Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack are named at half-back, with the pack unchanged from the win over Italy.

Charles Ollivon skippers the side from openside flanker, packing down alongside Gregory Alldritt and Francois Cros.

There is again an all-South African lock pairing of Bernard Le Roux and Paul Willemse, while the front row comprises Mohamed Haouas, Julien Marchand and Cyril Baille.

There is, however, no place in the match-day squad of 23 for prop Jefferson Poirot, France's vice-captain at last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The bench sees the return of hooker Camille Chat, while Toulouse prop Jean-Baptiste Gros, 20, is in line to win his first cap.

Lyon flanker Dylan Cretin and Toulouse fullback Thomas Ramos both also make their returns to the bench, completed by prop Demba Bamba, lock Romain Taofifenua, and half-backs Baptiste Serin and Mathieu Jalibert.

Teams:

Wales

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones

Substitutes: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Johnny McNicholl

France  

15 Anthony Bouthier; 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Arthur Vincent, 11 Gael Fickou; 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont; 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Francois Cros; 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Bernard Le Roux; 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille

Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Dylan Cretin, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Mathieu Jalibert, 23 Thomas Ramos

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Rebels 30
Brumbies 7
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England 106/4 (37.3 ov)
Pakistan 326
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England 106/4 (37.3 ov)
Pakistan 326
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