AAP Rugby

Picamoles, Iturria return for Boks clash

By AAP Newswire

Louis Picamoles and flanker Arthur Iturria have come in from the cold to start for France against the Springboks on Saturday.

The Test at Stade de France will be their first since they were dropped in February following a night of drinking in Edinburgh during the Six Nations.

Picamoles, who has 69 caps, and Iturria, who has three, were among a group sanctioned following a loss to Scotland.

The group went out drinking, causing police investigations and the flight home to be delayed.

Of Iturria, coach Jacques Brunel said: "He is physically fit at last and can bring a lot of quality, especially in terms of technique and intelligence."

Others who were sanctioned returned in June during the tour of New Zealand, including flyhalf Anthony Belleau, centre Remi Lamerat, winger Teddy Thomas, and lock Felix Lambey. Only squad players Jonathan Danty and Sekou Macalou have yet to make the Tricolors again.

Stade France centre Gael Fickou couldn't break into the starting XV despite excellent domestic form, and is on the bench.

Damian Penaud, whose five previous caps were at centre, will make his debut as a winger, opposite Thomas.

"Fickou is in good form, but for this first game we preferred to keep the collaboration we had with (Mathieu) Bastareaud and (Geoffrey) Doumayrou at centre," Brunel said.

"And on the wing, Penaud has been playing one good match after another. Also, it's likely there will be a lot of pressure in the kicking game and I believe Damian has a little edge in this area."

Maxime Medard will start at fullback, while Brunel chose to pair flyhalf Camille Lopez and scrumhalf Baptiste Serin.

Since he took over last December, Brunel has recorded only mediocre results, winning just two matches against Italy and England in the Six Nations, followed by three straight defeats in New Zealand in June.