Preview: France v USA

France did not make it easy for themselves but having seen off Argentina, the pressure is on to avoid a slip-up in two must-win games in four days.

France did not make it easy for themselves but having seen off Argentina, the pressure is on to avoid a slip-up in two must-win games in four days.

It begins in Fukuoka against the USA, Les Bleus looking to follow up that 23-21 success by avoiding a similarly tense ending against the Eagles.

They then face Tonga in Kumamoto on Sunday and with such a quick turnaround – and England to follow six days later – Jacques Brunel has planned accordingly.

The France coach has made 12 changes from the team that beat los Pumas, Louis Picamoles captaining the team for the first time.

Only Arthur Iturria, who shifts to the back row, Gaël Fickou and Yoann Huget start again, with an experienced feel to the side that sees Maxime Machenaud and Camille Lopez start in the half-backs.

Guilhem Guirado drops to the bench for this one, with France wary of an American reaction after what coach Gary Gold described as a Kobe calamity in their heavy opening loss to England.

Backing up victories has been a struggle for France over the last four years, having not won four in a row since the last World Cup.

However if they can do that with wins over USA and then Tonga, Les Bleus could have a place in the quarter-finals in the bag before Le Crunch that ends the pool.

That is the plan, but with the humidity in Fukuoka and against a motivated USA team, Picamoles and his team will have to be at their best to make it two from two.

France v USA, Fukuoka, Wednesday October 2, Kick off 8:45AM BST

France captain Louis Picamoles

“I don’t feel like I have changed. But the impression I give off is perhaps more positive than in the past. I want to make the most of this, to enjoy. The fact I think less about negative stuff on the inside perhaps means that I seem more positive from the outside. I just want to give everything I can do the team.

“The young players bring a sense of fresh air to the team and I try to add my experience. We’re having a good time and we want to make sure it lasts as long as possible.”

USA prop Eric Fry, who plays for Vannes in France:

“It’s a very special game for me. I’ve been in France for the last three years, been immersed in the culture.

“It’s very exciting to play against the country that I’ve been in. So going back (to Vannes) in three or four weeks, I want to be able to look those guys in the eyes and show them I gave everything and gave France a good run for their money.

“When I moved to France I didn’t speak any French so that change was quite difficult. Part of the reason I wanted to go to France was to experience a different culture and to learn another language.

“Especially in Brittany, they even threw in the Breton language for our lineout calls so there was almost a third language in there. I think I adapted well. I’ve loved it.”

In his 81st appearance for France, Louis Picamoles will captain the side for the very first time. The experienced No.8 is not new to the role, he has captained Montpellier plenty of times before, but on the Test stage it will be a new challenge. Having come off the bench in the opening win, he will have the chance to make an impact from the start against a USA team with Cam Dolan at No.8. Dolan will not captain the team but is vastly experienced in his own right, having made his professional debut with Northampton Saints. Curiously enough, Picamoles went onto play for Saints a couple of years later, and now the two will go up against one another.

France: 15. Thomas Ramos, 14. Alivereti Raka, 13. Sofiane Guitoune, 12. Gaël Fickou, 11. Yoann Huget, 10. Camille Lopez, 9. Maxime Machenaud, 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Camille Chat, 3. Emerick Setiano, 4. Bernard le Roux, 5. Paul Gabrillagues, 6. Arthur Iturria, 7. Yacouba Camara, 8. Louis Picamoles (c)

Replacements: 16. Guilhem Guirado, 17. Jefferson Poirot, 18. Rabah Slimani, 19. Sébastien Vahaamahina, 20. Grégory Alldritt, 21. Baptiste Serin, 22. Romain Ntamack, 23. Maxime Médard

USA: 15. Mike Te’o, 14. Blaine Scully (c), 13. Marcel Brache, 12. Bryce Campbell, 11. Martin Iosefo, 10. AJ MacGinty, 9. Shaun Davies, 1. Eric Fry, 2. Joe Taufete’e, 3. Titi Lamositele, 4. Nate Brakeley, 5. Nick Civetta, 6. Tony Lamborn, 7. Hanco Garmishuys, 8. Cam Dolan

Replacements: 16. Dylan Fawsitt, 17. Olive Kilifi, 18. Paul Mullen, 19. Greg Peterson, 20. Ben Pinkelman, 21. Ruben de Haas, 22. Will Magie, 23. Thretton Palamo