Edinburgh – Guy Noves made six changes to his France team for Sunday’s crucial Six Nations clash with Scotland at Murrayfield, he announced on Friday.
Les Bleus opened their campaign with successive narrow home wins over Italy and Ireland, but were beaten 19-10 in Cardiff by Wales a fortnight ago, so know they need a win in Edinburgh on Sunday to keep their title hopes alive.
Francois Trinh-Duc takes the place of Jules Plisson at fly-half, after some shaky kicking displays in recent weeks from the Stade Francais man.
It is a first tournament start since 2013 for 29-year-old Trinh-Duc, who was not regularly used by previous coach Philippe Saint-Andre, although he may have returned sooner if not for a tibia injury.
“Francois (Trinh-Duc) was among the first called, he was in our plans,” said head coach Noves on Friday.
“With Jules (Plisson), they hold the key for us. Jules has played three matches, so it will be interesting to see (Trinh-Duc) in action in the game.”
French fans will also be delighted to see the return of Wesley Fofana after the 28-year-old missed the start of the tournament with a rib problem.
Usually a centre, he will start on the wing for the first time internationally in three years, and he has never kept the fact he prefers to play in midfield a secret.
But Noves is not worried about that and simply sees this as just another opportunity for the Clermont back.
“Given the strength that we have available, it seemed interesting to see him on the wing. We did not want to ignore this option and it should be a lot of fun,” said Noves.
Another alteration sees Gael Fickou come in at centre for Jonathan Danty, who has been released back to Stade Francais.
Fullback Scott Spedding, who has not played for France since the Rugby World Cup quarter-final humiliation at the hands of New Zealand last October, returns from injury in place of Maxime Medard, who drops to the bench.
The 21-year-old Yacouba Camara will make his third international appearance at No 8, with Yoann Maestri replacing Paul Jedrasiak in the second row.
15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Alex Dunbar,
11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Josh
Strauss, 7 John Hardie, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3
Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Stuart McInally, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Moray Low, 19 Tim Swinson, 20
Ryan Wilson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Sean Lamont
15 Scott Spedding, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Yacouba Camara, 7 Damien Chouly, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Uini Atonio, 18 Vincent Pelo, 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Sebastien Bezy, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Maxime Medard