No France return for Thomas and punished players

Jacques Brunel (Getty)
Jacques Brunel (Getty)

Paris - France coach Jacques Brunel has kept faith in his squad that earned a first win in nine matches against Italy last weekend ahead of next week's crunch Six Nations encounter with England.

It means there is no place in the squad for dazzling wing Teddy Thomas and his fellow players sanctioned two weeks ago with a one-match ban over a controversial late-night, alcohol-fuelled drinking session.

Barnstorming No 8 Louis Picamoles has also been left out along with the other six punished players: Arthur Iturria, Anthony Belleau, Jonathan Danty, Sekou Macalou, Remi Lamerat and Felix Lambey.

France had been under pressure and on an eight-match winless run ahead of Friday night's match in Marseille.

But Brunel said he hoped France "have regained confidence" following the 34-17 success and could yet name an unchanged team against Eddie Jones's men, who will be smarting from their chastening 25-13 defeat by Scotland.

Barrelling centre Mathieu Bastareaud will likely be given another start after a starring role against Italy.

He missed France's first two matches in the tournament as he served a ban over a homophobic slur.

But Brunel was delighted with his contribution in Marseille, saying: "We knew from the beginning he would be useful to the team and he demonstrated that (on Friday).

"He gave us what we expected of him."

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