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Ntamack and Dupont start in the half-backs for France

Ntamack and Dupont start in the half-backs for France
  • Les Bleus change nine for final warm-up match
  • Ntamack in at ten alongside club colleague Dupont
  • Poirot takes on captaincy again as Guirado drops to the bench

Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack will combine as the half-back pairing for France against Italy in their final warm-up match before the Rugby World Cup.

The Toulouse pair started together in three matches during the 2019 Guinness Six Nations and will be reunited against Italy at the Stade de France on Friday night.

Jacques Brunel has made nine personnel changes in total from the team that went narrowly to Scotland in Edinburgh, with Jefferson Poirot reclaiming the captaincy.

It is a completely revamped back five in the pack as Arthur Iturria shifts to the second row alongside Romain Taofifenua, while Wenceslas Lauret, Yacouba Camara and Louis Picamoles all get their first starts of the summer in the back row.

Dupont continues at nine for the third straight match, and will be paired with Ntamack, who has come off the bench in each of the first two games.

Wesley Fofana, a late withdrawal in Scotland, returns to the centres alongside Sofiane Guitoune, the man who replaced him, which means that Gaël Fickou shifts to the wing.

The rest of the back three is made up by Toulouse duo Maxime Médard at full-back and Yoann Huget on the wing, the latter involved for the first time in the warm-up series.

On the bench, Virimi Vakatawa gets his chance, having been called into the squad to replace the injured Geoffrey Doumayrou.

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Brunel is set to announce his final squad of 31 next Monday, with France then set to fly out to Japan where they are in a group with England, Argentina, Tonga and the USA.

France team to face Italy:

15. Maxime Médard (Toulouse)
14. Yoann Huget (Toulouse)
13. Sofiane Guitoune (Toulouse)
12. Wesley Fofana (Clermont)
11. Gaël Fickou (Stade Français)
10. Romain Ntamack (Toulouse)
9. Antoine Dupont (Toulouse)

1. Jefferson Poirot (Bordeaux-Bègles) (c)
2. Camille Chat (Racing 92)
3. Rabah Slimani (Clermont)
4. Arthur Iturria (Clermont)
5. Romain Taofifenua (Toulon)
6. Wenceslas Lauret (Racing 92)
7. Yacouba Camara (Montpellier)
8. Louis Picamoles (Montpellier)

Replacements:

16. Guilhem Guirado (Montpellier)
17. Cyril Baille (Toulouse)
18. Emerick Setiano (Toulon)
19. Félix Lambey (Lyon)
20. François Cros (Toulouse)
21. Baptiste Serin (Toulon)
22. Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92)
23. Thomas Ramos (Toulouse)