Guitoune, Nakaitaci battle for place

Date published: February 25 2015

With Teddy Thomas ruled out of this weekend's game against Wales, France will turn to either Sofiane Guitoune or Noa Nakaitaci. 

The Bordeaux-Bègles and Clermont back have both been in good form this season, having also worked on areas where they noticeably fell short during their more recent appearances for les Bleus.

Both are lethal attacking threats with plenty of pace, in that sense very similar to the crocked Thomas, and are similarly matched in a way that makes the selection difficult for Philippe Saint-André.

Starting with Guitoune, who impressed with his quick footwork in last weekend's win over Toulon, Saint-André appreciates his versatility.

"Sofiane did some interesting things [against Toulon]," Saint-André told Rugbyrama.

"He was good. It was a nice burst to lay down a marker. We saw that he had found the energy, speed, support, gas. This is important in modern rugby. We know he's a versatile player. He can play full-back, center, wing. He has brought a lot of freshness.

"Sofiane is a boy that doesn't need to force it. But he still needs to make progress on certain aspects in defense, on areas of at the breakdown."

Guitoune doesn't exactly seem fazed by taking on giant Wales winger George North either. 

"I like the big guys," Guitoune smiled.

"I want to play like I do for my club, nothing more. I don't think I've changed. I will try to offer myself, to try things. We need this France team to loosen up."

Nakaitaci on the otherhand has significantly improved his work in defence since winning two caps against New Zealand in 2013.

"He frankly has few faults," backs coach Patrice Lagisquet also told Rugbyrama.

"He has made really good progress on his defensive timing, an area that had been pointed during the tour in New Zealand and now there he is rarely caught out.

"He is a good tackler, he has a very good kicking game, he times his runs well when he hits the line and he even has the ability to play well after contact.

"There is not much to put in the negatives column. I am convinced that he is a very good finisher, but above all, he scores too. His hands have a physical characteristic, huge thumbs, so he holds the ball with one hand and makes passes with one hand. If we have to find small flaws, it's more in the communication. But he has an assertive personality" .

Two real talents, who will do their upmost to keep Wales busy in Paris this weekend should they win the number 11 shirt.