Back to serious matters. After their opening coup against New Zealand (27-13) then their failed outing against Uruguay (27-12), the Blues challenge this Thursday (9 p.m.), at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, another team modest, Namibia. While it was initially planned to line up the usual understudies for this third match of the World Cup, Fabien Galthié and his staff finally changed their tune and decided to recall almost their entire standard team (the famous “premium). After having made twelve rotations after the first match, they again made twelve changes compared to the team which started last Thursday at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille.
Thus, only three players continue and retain a starting place: the second row Cameron Woki (who will have started the first three matches), the third row Anthony Jelonch (who made his return to competition against the Uruguayans) and the young winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey, author of a try at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium and who will honor his fifth selection. He was preferred to Gabin Villière, who has struggled to regain his effectiveness since his return from injury.
This Thursday's match will be marked by the return to competition of Cyril Baille and Jonathan Danty. The left pillar of Stade Toulousain was hit in the calf in mid-August during the Blues' second preparation match, in Saint-Étienne, against Scotland (30-27). The left-handed number 1 of the Blues “is incredibly fresh,” underlined William Servat, the French scrum coach. I feel like he's even better than before he got hurt. He lost a little weight (smile) and he regenerated mentally. He has a lot of desire.”
The three-quarter center of Stade Rochelais had suffered a hamstring injury during the last preparatory match, against the Wallabies (41-17), at the end of August at the Stade de France. Regarding these two players, Laurent Labit, the coach of the French attack, explained: “They need to find competition and rhythm again. We took the time to prepare them, we could have actually lined them up against Uruguay but we chose to do differently.
In the pack, the surprise came from the last minute withdrawal of Grégory Alldritt, who was injured in the knee on Monday in training. Anthony Jelonch will therefore start at number 8, as against Uruguay, and François Cros returns to the starting XV. For the rest, it’s the return of the executives of the XV of France. With in particular the hinge Antoine Dupont-Matthieu Jalibert, Thomas Ramos at the back and Damian Penaud on one of the wings. “After the Namibia match (this Thursday), we will have two weeks before the last match against Italy (in Lyon). The players who had participated in the opening match were not going to play again until October 6 and remain a month without competition,” explains Laurent Labit.
In seven appearances at the World Cup since 1999, the Namibians - nicknamed the “Welwitschias” in reference to a particularly resistant plant from the coastal Namib desert - have never won a match. During the 2019 World Cup in Japan, they obtained the two points of the draw, on the green carpet, after the cancellation of their last match against Canada due to a typhoon, finishing fourth in their group on the difference of points ahead the “Canucks”. During this edition, they were swept away by Italy (52-8) then New Zealand (71-3).
Ramos - Penaud, Fickou, Danty, Bielle-Biarrey - (o) Jalibert, (m) Dupont (cap.) - Ollivon, Jelonch, Cros - Flament, Woki - Atonio, Mauvaka, BailleRemplaçants: Bourgarit, Wardi, Aldegheri, Taofifenua, Boudehent, Couilloud, Moefana, Jaminet
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