Michel Euler / AP
French fullback Brice Dulin is the only player in the match day team to have more than 10 international matches to his name.
France admits that the forced mismatch in experience between them and England makes the Autumn Nations Cup final in Twickenham a farce.
But coach Fabien Galthié promised one thing: “We will be ready on Sunday, I assure you that we will be ready.”
France’s six tests this fall are double the usual number due to the pandemic. But the Top 14 clubs forced the national federation to limit each player to three tests. The core players appeared over the first four. Eleven players then made their debut last weekend by beating Italy 36-5.
Next Monday (NZT), England will play their most experienced starting XV with a combined 813 caps. France will broadcast a team with a total of 68, their second lowest ever. Fullback Brice Dulin leads with 30 caps, followed by first five Matthieu Jalibert with 7.
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“The players have been exemplary in their preparation and they all deserve their caps,” said French team manager Raphael Ibanez.
“Seen from abroad, this final can be considered ‘a farce’. We understand: our two national selections are not on the same footing.
Highlanders coach Tony Brown talks about the recovery of the ‘lost identity’ of the Highlanders and the possible impact of new acquisition Solomon Alaimalo.
“Since the start of our international period, we have not been able to take advantage of two weeks of preparation [with the same team]. Despite all this, we won our matches to reach the final. That means that the players have focus and character. They are a talented squad and who knows, they might be ready to take down mountains this weekend. “
England made just one change after beating Wales 24-13 at Llanelli last week. Anthony Watson was reinstated to the right wing for an injured Jonathan Joseph.
The reserves went back to a traditional 5-3 forwards-backs split, so England club player of the season, flanker Jack Willis, retired and the first five Max Malins were recalled.
The three-game rule forced Baptiste Serin, the halfback and captain against Italy, and Teddy Thomas, the try-scoring wing. They have been replaced by Baptiste Couilloud, who is captain at his first test start, and Alivereti Raka, who was last seen at the Rugby World Cup in Japan last year.
Toulouse No. 8 Selevasio Tolofua will make his debut, and loose prop Hassane Kolingar and second five Yoram Moufana begin their first test among the six changes of victory in Italy.
Uncapped Bayonnais slot Guillaume Ducat is in the reserves, along with Clermont halfback Sébastien Bézy, last capped in 2016.
“What stands out about our team is their lack of common experience,” said Galthié. So we tried to speed that all up. [England] are a team. Our challenge was to turn a selection into a team. ”
France has no starters from the side that beat England 24-17 in Paris in February. England has 10.
Seeking revenge for their only loss this year, the English have pledged all week to take the final seriously, to take France seriously and to add the Autumn Nations Cup to the Six Nations trophy they won five weeks ago.
Coach Eddie Jones said, “My message to the players will be to make every effort every minute of the game and win every fight.”