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Six nations: which French XV to face Wales?

All the Blues worked to swear it.

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Six nations: which French XV to face Wales?

All the Blues worked to swear it. After the hiccup against Italy, they will “question themselves” to try to finish this Six Nations Tournament better than it started. A takeover operation which will begin on Sunday March 10 in Cardiff (4 p.m. kick-off) before continuing on March 16 (9 p.m.) in Lyon for the reception of England at the end of this edition. Is this realistic? We will have time to come back to it. In the meantime, let's look at the possible team composition for the next trip to Wales.

The captain will return to lead his troops in Cardiff. Victim of a deep wound in his thigh against Scotland, Grégory Alldritt had to be given time to heal. The Rochelais will therefore find his place in the center of the third line, supervised by Charles Ollivon and François Cros, who had acted as number 8 against Italy. Paul Boudehent, one of the few Blues to his advantage on Sunday in Lille, will return to the substitutes' bench.

Other possible returns include that of Thibaud Flament and Paul Willemse in the second line. The Toulouse man is expected to be the Messiah between his importance in the French game and the disappointing performances of Cameron Woki. Problem however, Flament has not played since December 9 and suffered a foot injury against Cardiff in the Champions Cup. He has recently resumed collective training and can hope to make his big comeback next Saturday against Castres during the 17th day of the Top 14. But after more than two months away from the field, will he not lack the rhythm to reintegrate? without delay the French starting XV?

Paul Willemse, for his part, served his three weeks of suspension following his double sanction (yellow card, then red card) against Ireland at the opening of the Tournament. The second line should play again with Montpellier. It remains to be seen whether his indiscipline, which cost the Blues dearly, was forgiven by Fabien Galthié and his staff. We would opt for a prolonged refrigeration…

Finally, there is the case of Melvyn Jaminet, seen in the group before Ireland, who has since been missing. The rear could be recalled. Even, even, propelled holder. The neo-Toulonnais has for him his long footwork, ideal for the occupation against the Welsh. Starting him at number 15 would above all allow, in the absence of Matthieu Jalibert, to be able to replace Thomas Ramos at the opening.

The Bordeaux opener, hit in the knee in the 35th minute against Italy, said goodbye to the Tournament. The worst is even to be feared, that is to say an end of the season, which would constitute a big blow for the player and his club, the UBB, of which he is the playing master. Just after his injury, Matthieu Jalibert went for medical examinations. And he joined his teammates with a gloomy expression, his left knee in a splint and crutches on his hands. Fabien Galthié revealed that he was “affected in the internal lateral ligament of the knee”. The verdict came on Monday. The UBB number 10 will be away from the field for six to eight weeks.

So who to start in 10 against the Leek XV? The obvious solution seems to be to start Thomas Ramos, the versatile full-back. The other option leads to Antoine Gibert, in the group since the start of the competition. But, as talented as he is, it would not be a gift to offer the young Racingman a first selection in a meeting under such high pressure. We will also have to replace Jalibert numerically in the group of 34. Despite the more than mixed start to the season at Stade Rochelais, it is probably a Maritime - Antoine Hastoy, failed since the World Cup, or the U20 world champion Hugo Reus – who will be summoned to Marcoussis.

The other package acquired, this time for suspension, is that of Jonathan Danty. A red card obviously linked to his excitement and frustration, he who is struggling to regain his level of last year, which places him at the forefront of criticism. The logical solution would be to establish his official understudy, UBB center Yoram Moefana. Many observers and supporters, however, are calling for new blood, the promotion of Bordelais Nicolas Depoortère or Palois Émilien Gailleton. But the two young men have been systematically released in the middle of the week since the start of this Tournament, a sign that their time has not yet come in the minds of the coach and his staff. One of the two, however, will be promoted by taking a place on the bench at the Millennium in Cardiff. Unless Gaël Fickou is repositioned as first center (n°12) to be associated with one of these two new talents with number 13?

Peato Mauvaka had reversed the hierarchy by starting the three matches to the detriment of his Toulouse teammate Julien Marchand. But, after a thunderous World Cup, he is marking time. It is very likely that the staff will revive the second named from the start of the match. Proof of the high esteem in which he enjoys, entering the game against Italy, he regained the captain's stripes after the exit of Charles Ollivon.

Can Maxime Lucu save his place (and his head)? The duty to remember risks having reached its limits given the three failed performances of the UBB scrum half. Overwhelmed by the pressure of regaining control of the game in the absence of Antoine Dupont, whose invasive shadow continues to hover over this French XV in complete decline, the Basque has exhausted all his credit. Unlike the young number 9 of Racing 92, Nolann Le Garrec, who came off the bench more and more quickly in each of the three meetings. The latter could therefore honor his first tenure in Cardiff, especially since Jalibert's package no longer justifies the maintenance of Lucu in the name of polite automatisms at the UBB. From there to imagine that after a 100% Bordeaux hinge, the staff could be tempted to favor the Racing 92 collusion of the Le Garrec-Gibert pair, there is a tempting audacity. Not sure, however, that Fabien Galthié, conservative in his choice of players, does not display it...

Same in the center. Danty out, why not take the opportunity to also do without Gaël Fickou, on the rim for months (he finally appeared in a slight upturn in form against Scotland and Italy) by launching the Bordeaux pair Moefana- Depoortere for example? Or, even more daring, line up the two ambitious kids, Émilien Gailleton and Nicolas Depoortère who are impatient to be given a chance. In times not so long ago, Fabien Galthié did not hesitate to launch another U20 in this position, Arthur Vincent, with success. But finding them associated against the Welsh constitutes, it is true, the (very) big odds in the game of predictions on the composition of the team lined up in two weeks.

Here too, we will have to numerically replace Danty in the group of 34. For a return to favor for Pierre-Louis Barassi? The Stade Toulouse center honored his 3rd and final selection in July 2021, during the Bleus' tour of Australia. His recent performances in the Stade jersey speak in his favor. His New Zealand teammate Pita Ahki is in any case lobbying. “My friend Barassi should be in this French team,” posted the Toulouse native on X. Will he be heard?

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