10 Nov 2017

France confirm Bastareaud return to face All Blacks

8:05 am on 10 November 2017

Mathieu Bastareaud will make his France comeback more than two years since his last appearance after the Toulon centre was named in the starting lineup for a test match against the All Blacks in Paris on Sunday morning.

Mathieu Bastareaud's makes an offload during the game between France and the All Blacks at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Mathieu Bastareaud's makes an offload during the game between France and the All Blacks at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo: Photosport Ltd

French coach Guy Noves named a team that will be led by halfback Antoine Dupont and debutant first-five Anthony Belleau, in the absence of the injured Camille Lopez. The pair have already played together in the France U-20 team.

Noves had to make do with a dozen withdrawals because of injuries and Bastareaud, who won his last cap in Les Bleus's record 62-13 defeat against New Zealand at the 2015 World Cup, benefited from the absence of Remi Lamerat.

Noves said he picked his team on the form of the moment.

"We thought that (centres) Mathieu (Bastareaud) and Geoffrey (Doumayrou), as well as Antoine (Dupont) and Anthony (Belleau) have been performing well with their clubs.

"We tried to build a team which is as competitive and as balanced as possible."

Noves was not concerned that halfbacks Dupont and Belleau were only 20 and 21, respectively and have only three caps between them.

"They have to start one day. It's not easy but the kids can play, even if we're against the best team in the world," he said. "We have nothing to lose. They have to be bold."

After three heavy defeats in South African in June, France want to avoid a thrashing against the world champions. Noves said the most important thing would be the team's mindset.

"What I'm asking is that everyone give their best. Those who don't understand that will not be coming back.

"Maybe if everyone gives their best, France will show something interesting."

France: Nans Ducuing, Teddy Thomas, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Mathieu Bastareaud, Yoann Huget, Anthony Belleau, Antoine Dupont, Louis Picamoles, Kevin Gourdon, Judicael Cancoriet, Paul Gabrillagues, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado (c), Jefferson Poirot. Replacements: Clement Maynadier, Raphael Chaume, Daniel Kotze, Paul Jedrasiak, Anthony Jelonch, Baptiste Serin, Francois Trinh-Duc, Damian Penaud.