Serin to skipper France rugby team with eight newcomers against Argentina

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:France;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">France</a>'s Baptiste Serin (L) and Janick Tarrit (R) during a training session in San Isidro, Buenos Aires province, <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Argentina;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Argentina</a> (LUIS ROBAYO)

Scrum-half Baptiste Serin will skipper a new-look France team with eight uncapped players for Saturday's rugby international against Argentina in Mendoza.

Without senior players such as Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, Gregory Alldritt and Gael Fickou, coach Fabien Galthie has rung the changes for Tests against the World Cup semi-finalists on July 6 and July 13.

"A tour is a growth accelerator," said Galthie.

"It's a big challenge for us, for the players. It's the best team of the moment, taking into account the context and the choices."

Six newcomers have made the starting XV with a further two on the replacements bench.

Pau full-back Theo Attissogbe, 19, and Stade Francais wing Lester Etien, 29, have made the cut along with 28-year-old Toulon centre Antoine Frisch.

La Rochelle's Oscar Jegou, 21, Racing 92's Jordan Joseph, 23, and Pau's Hugo Auradou, 20, will also start.

Two more rookies could also discover international level off the bench -- Lyon second row Mickael Guillard, 23, and 20-year-old Montpellier flanker Lenni Nouchi.

Toulon scrum-half Serin, capped 44 times, is the most experienced of the 42 players called up for the tour.

The 30-year-old has not worn the jersey since a 34-17 victory against Fiji in a World Cup warm-up in France last August.

His last start for France dates back to November 28, 2020 -- a 36-5 victory over Italy.

"He's the most experienced player," said Galthie.

"He's coming off a very good season with his club. For us, he's an essential player in leadership, in running the game and in experience.

"It allows the other players to concentrate on performance. It's really a team that has almost zero collective experience."

La Rochelle third row Judicael Cancoriet, 28, returns six years after the last of his four caps, a heavy defeat to the All Blacks at Eden Park.

Only La Rochelle prop Georges-Henri Colombe, 26, and Stade Francais fullback Leo Barre, 21, with two caps each, played in France's last match, a 33-31 Six Nations win over England.

"It's a great moment of personal development," said Galthie.

"From previous tours, in Australia, in Japan, some 'premium' players were born. I'm willing to bet that five or six players will be 'premium' for future years. I'm sure we have some gems here."

Galthie is expecting a "combative" Argentina.

"It's a team which, culturally, has a fighting spirit. Very solid in the scrum phases, in the ruck phases... It's a very tough team."

Team (15-1)

Leo Barre; Theo Attissogbe, Emilien Gailleton, Antoine Frisch, Lester Etien; Antoine Hastoy, Baptiste Serin; Oscar Jegou, Jordan Joseph, Judicael Cancoriet; Baptiste Pesenti, David Auradou; Georges-Henri Colombe, Gaetan Barlot, Jean-Baptiste Gros

Replacements: Teddy Baubigny, Sebastien Taofifenua, Demba Bamba, Posolo Tuilagi, Mickael Guillard, Lenni Nouchi, Baptiste Couilloud, Melvyn Jaminet