French coach Jacques Brunel is set to throw a clutch of inexperienced youngsters in at the deep end against England at Twickenham on Sunday. In particular, the France bench is brimming with young talent but is short on international experience.
Brunel made several changes as a result of injuries to key men suffered in last week’s defeat against Wales. And there were some sharp words from former international star Thomas Castaignede who slammed the coach for picking foreigners, having too heavy a pack, and for lacking an on-field leader.
The eight substitutes boast an average of only three caps. That figure is boosted by the inclusion of Danny Priso with a tally of 11 and Antoine Dupont, who has 10 appearances for Les Bleus under his belt.
Pierre Bourgarit, Paul Willemse and Romain Ntamack have just one selection each to their credit, while the Toulouse duo Dorian Aldegheri and Thomas Ramos will make their debuts if they enter the fray.
Castaignede targeted Willemse in particular, stating that it was wrong to have a foreign player in the squad instead of home grown talent. The South African-born Montpellier second row is the oldest of the subs at the age of 26.
Ntamack, the 19 year old Toulouse stand off who made his debut against the Welsh, has warned his colleagues to expect a baptism of fire as they step up to the next level.
“It’s completely different. The collisions are harder, the pace is faster and the guys are more precise”, he said.
Brunel has also plumped for emerging talent in his starting line up, with 20 year old tighthead Demba Bamba playing his first Six Nations match, while 22 year old Damien Penaud earns his eighth cap on the wing.
However, there is plenty of experience in the side, with five players having more than 50 caps, among them the returning Mathieu Bastareaud, whose clash with Manu Tuilagi promises to be an intriguing affair.
Written by Colin Renton