Uncapped Bouthier and Haouas to start against England

Reuters
Rugby World Cup warm-up match - France v Italy
Rugby World Cup warm-up match - France v Italy

PARIS (Reuters) - Uncapped Anthony Bouthier and Mohamed Haouas will start France's Six Nations opening game against England on Sunday as Les Bleus hope for a renaissance under new coach Fabien Galthie.

Fullback Bouthier will have to deal with England's kicking game and prop Haouas will be tested by the pack of the World Cup runners-up in a highly anticipated showdown at the Stade de France.

The starting XV has an average of less than 15 caps per player, although eight of them started the 2019 World Cup quarter-final game against Wales.

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France have not won the Six Nations since 2010.

"It's simple, our goal is to win (the championship)," Galthie told a news conference after unveiling his team on Thursday.

England manager Eddie Jones will unveil his starting XV on Friday in Paris.

Galthie said that he picked Bouthier for his "consistent good performances" with his club, Montpellier.

"The training sessions have confirmed his potential," added Galthie, who explained that Bouthier could also play at flyhalf.

For all their lack of experience, there will some familiar sights within the French team as Toulouse team mates Antoine Dupont, at scrumhalf, and Romain Ntamack, at flyhalf, will be paired together.

Centres Gael Fickou and Virimi Vakataaw will also start together following their remarkable performance in Japan last year, with the explosive Teddy Thomas on the right wing.


Team:

15-Anthony Bouthier, 14-Teddy Thomas, 13-Virimi Vakatawa, 12-Gael Fickou, 11-Damian Penaud, 10-Romain Ntamack, 9-Anthony Dupont, 8-Gregory Alldritt, 7-Charles Ollivon (captain), 6-Francois Cros, 5-Paul Willemse, 4-Bernard Le Roux, 3-Mohamed Haouas, 2-Julien Marchand, 1-Cyril Baille

Replacements:

16-Peato Mauvaka, 17-Jefferson Poirot, 18-Demba Bamba, 19-Boris Palu, 20-Cameron Woki, 21-Baptiste Serin, 22-Matthieu Jalibert, 23-Vincent Rattez



(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by John Stonestreet and Pritha Sarkar)

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