France pick rookie playmaker for deciding Test

A first France cap was handed to five-eighth Antoine Hastoy for the decisive rugby Test against Australia on Saturday.

Hastoy impressed in training with his vivacity and coach Fabien Galthie decided on Thursday to replace a tired Louis Carbonel, who played in the first two Tests.

Australia won the first 23-21 and France the second 28-26 on Tuesday.

Watch the series decider between the Wallabies and France this Saturday with extended coverage, ad-free, live & on demand on Stan Sport from 7.15pm AEST and Channel 9 from 7.30pm

“Louis played 80 minutes in two matches and, given what we saw, it seemed to us that Hastoy can bring a bit of freshness,” Galthie said.

“There’s also the quality of his training. He showed us that he has the potential to get into this side and bring his qualities as a playmaker, a ball player, both in front of and behind the defence.”

Hastoy will line up alongside halfback Baptiste Couilloud, who plays his third straight match along with No.8 Anthony Jelonch — the captain — centre Arthur Vincent, winger Damian Penaud, and goalkicking fullback Melvyn Jaminet.

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“Baptiste is in form, he’s not worn out,” Galthie said ahead of the Test in Brisbane.

“He’s among the best scrumhalves in France and it’s a chance for him to gain experience. Above all, he feels good, and he recovers quickly.”

Galthie’s other changes included Pierre-Louis Barassi at centre instead of Jonathan Danty, and Teddy Thomas on the left wing for Gabin Villiere, who injured his ankle.

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The props were changed with Enzo Forletta and Sipil Falatea replacing Wilfrid Hounkpatin and the injured Jean-Baptiste Gros.

Jaminet’s nerveless kicking saw him land seven penalties and a conversion on Tuesday in Melbourne for France’s first win over the Wallabies on their home soil since 1990.

The Test on Saturday back in Brisbane will be their third match in just 11 days.

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The French have been competitive despite missing star halves Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, and slick fullback Brice Dulin.

There have been difficult circumstances, too, with France spending two weeks in COVID-19-forced quarantine in Sydney.

But the huge talent pool of French rugby has given Galthie some pleasant surprises such as Couilloud and Jaminet, who has yet to even play in France’s Top 14 league.

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Meanwhile, two reserves could also make their Test debuts, centre Julien Heriteau and flanker Alexandre Becognee.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie made eight changes to his starting lineup.

“We’re confident they’ll get the job done in Brisbane,” Rennie said.

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Halfback Tate McDermott, lock Darcy Swain and centre Len Ikitau will make their starting debuts for the Wallabies, while flanker Lachlan Swinton was brought straight into the run-on team for his first Test this year.

James Slipper was retained alongside hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa in the front row for the third straight Test, and Allan Alaalatoa recalled at tighthead in place of Taniela Tupou.

Swain will partner Lukhan Salakaia-Loto in the second row.

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Isi Naisarani is at No.8 for the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal, combining with skipper Michael Hooper and Swinton, in a new look backrow.

“We were disappointed with the result in Melbourne and we’ll be out to rectify that with more accuracy and composure in key moments,” Rennie said.

FRANCE (15-1): Melvyn Jaminet, Damian Penaud, Pierre-Louis Barassi, Arthur Vincent, Teddy Thomas, Antoine Hastoy, Baptiste Couilloud, Anthony Jelonch (c), Cameron Woki, Dylan Cretin, Romain Taofifenua, Cyril Cazeaux, Sipili Falatea, Gaetan Barlot, Enzo Forletta

Reserves: Anthony Etrillard, Quentin Walcker, Demba Bamba, Pierre-Henry Azagoh, Alexandre Becognee, Teddy Iribaren, Anthony Bouthier, Julien Heriteau

WALLABIES (15-1): Tom Banks, Filipo Daugunu, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Tate McDermott, Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (c), Lachlan Swinton, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper

Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Matt Philip, Rob Valetini, Jake Gordon, Matt To’omua, Reece Hodge

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