Teenage behemoth lock set for first Les Bleus start while Charles Ollivon skippers France against Italy

David Skippers
Posolo Tuilagi France v Ireland SN 2024 - Alamy.jpg

France second-row Posolo Tuilagi.

France head coach Fabien Galthie has made just two alterations to his starting line-up for their Round Three Six Nations clash against Italy in Lille on Sunday.

Galthie has made one injury-enforced change with Grégory Alldritt ruled out after sustaining a leg injury in their previous match, against Scotland at Murrayfield, with François Cros shifting from the openside flank to start at number eight.

Alldritt’s absence means that fellow loose forward Charles Ollivon takes over France‘s captaincy for the clash against the Azzurri. Cros’ place on the side of the scrum will be taken by Paul Boudehent, who started on the replacements bench against the Scots.

Posolo Tuilagi elevated to starting XV

The final change sees behemoth teenage lock Posolo Tuilagi come into the run-on side to make his first international start after impressing off the bench in the previous two matches, against Ireland and Scotland.

Tuilagi replaces Paul Gabrillagues, who drops out of the matchday squad, with Romain Taofifenua preferred on the bench as second-row cover.

There are no changes in the backline, with Thomas Ramos continuing at full-back alongside Damian Penaud and Louis Bielle-Biarrey in an exciting back three, while Gaël Fickou lines up next to Jonathan Danty in the centres with Matthieu Jalibert and Maxime Lucu the starting halfbacks.

Meanwhile, Toulon back-row Esteban Abadie is in line to make his Test debut for France off the bench, and he is joined by Alexandre Roumat as the back-up loose forward.

Julien Marchand is the reserve hooker alongside Sébastien Taofifenua and Dorian Aldegheri, who are the backup props, and Galthie has once again opted for a 6-2 forwards and backs split on his bench with Nolann Le Garrec and Yoram Moefana the backline replacements again.

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France team to face Italy

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Maxime Lucu, 8 François Cros, 7 Charles Ollivon (c), 6 Paul Boudehent, 5 Posolo Tuilagi, 4 Cameron Woki, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Esteban Abadie, 22 Nolann Le Garrec, 23 Yoram Moefana

Date: Sunday, February 25
Venue: Pierre Mauroy, Lille
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Christophe Ridley (England)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)

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