France make 13 changes for Italy clash, Galthie names five debutants

France has an agreement with the Top 14 which means that players are only available for three international fixtures. Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images

France coach Fabien Galthie has named five debutants in a much-changed XV for their Autumn Nations Cup clash with Italy on Saturday.

With a number of players unavailable for selection due to an agreement between the Federation and the Top 14 -- players were only available for three fixtures during this series of internationals -- Galthie has made 13 changes from the side that beat Scotland last weekend.

Fly-half Matthieu Jalibert and winger Teddy Thomas are the only players who retain their place in the XV, while first caps have been handed to prop Rodrigue Neti, second rowers Killian Geraci and Baptiste Pesenti, centre Jean-Pascal Barraque and winger Gabin Villiere as Les Bleus look to win their fifth international in a row.

France had a 35-22 victory the last time they faced Italy in the Six Nations back in February, before the COVID-19 enforced shutdown.

Meanwhile, Italy recalled winger Luca Sperandio for the first time in almost two years as they made three changes to their team, it was announced on Thursday.

Sperandio, who won the last of his six caps against France in Rome in March, 2019, replaces Mattia Bellini.

Braam Steyn moves to No. 8 in place of the injured Jake Polledri with Maxime Mbanda and Johan Meyer coming in onto the flanks. Mbanda starts a game for Italy for the first time since last year's World Cup after Sebastien Negri pulled out with an adductor injury.

Cristian Stoian, born in Moldova but an Italian junior international lock, is one of two uncapped players on the bench along with flanker Michele Lamaro.

Italy last played a fortnight ago in the Autumn Nations Cup, losing 28-17 at home to Scotland, but had their second game against Fiji cancelled because of mass COVID-19 infections in the Pacific Islanders camp.

France team to face Italy

Starting XV:

Brice Dulin, Teddy Thomas, Jean-Pascal Barraque, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere, Matthieu Jalibert, Baptiste Serin (captain), Anthony Jelonch, Sekou Malacou, Cameron Woki, Baptiste Peseti, Killian Geraci, Dorian Aldegheri, Peato Mauvaka, Rodrigue Neti


Teddy Baubigny, Hassane Kolingar, Uini Atonio, Cyril Cazeaux, Swan Rebbadj, Baptiste Couilloud, Louis Carbonel, Yoram Moefana.

Italy team to face France

Starting XV:

Matteo Minozzi, Jacopo Trulla, Marco Zanon, Carlo Canna, Luca Sperandio, Paolo Garbisi, Marcello Violi, Braam Steyn, Johan Meyer, Maxime Mbanda, Niccolo Cannone, Marco Lazzaroni, Giosue Zilocchi, Luca Bigi (captain), Danilo Fischetti


Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari, Pietro Ceccarelli, Cristian Stoian, Michele Lamoro, Stephen Varney, Tomasso Allan, Federico Mori.