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Huget drafted in for France as Noves makes three changes

Noves believes the Ireland match will be pivotal in determining France's Six Nations fortunes this year.

France's Yoann Huget during a training session. Picture: AFP

UNITED KINGDOM - France manager Guy Noves made three changes to his starting 15 to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, including drafting in Yoann Huget to replace Virimi Vakatawa on the wing.

Huget, who came on in the second half of France's previous Six Nations match, a 22-16 home win against Scotland, was the natural choice after Vakatawa skipped training with a thigh problem.

"Vakatawa is injured, it is logical for Yoann to start," said Noves when he announced the side on Thursday.

Bernard Le Roux comes into the back row after Loann Goujon and Damien Chouly sustained injuries, while prop Rabah Slimani replaces the disappointing Uini Atonio, the heaviest player in this year's championship.

Noves believes the Ireland match will be pivotal in determining France's Six Nations fortunes this year.

"We showed we could compete with England for 70 minutes. Ireland beat New Zealand, they scored 60 points against Italy. This (against Ireland) is an essential game," he said.

Replacement fly-half Jean-Marc Doussain fails to make the bench this time, meaning starting scrum-half Baptiste Serin could shift to number 10 during the game, with Maxime Machenaud coming in at 9.

Team:

15-Scott Spedding, 14-Yoann Huget, 13-Remi Lamerat, 12-Gael Fickou, 11-Noa Nakaitaci, 10-Camille Lopez, 9-Baptiste Serin, 8-Louis Picamoles, 7-Kevin Gourdon, 6-Bernard Le Roux, 5-Yoann Maestri, 4-Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3-Rabah Slimani, 2-Guilhem Guirado (cap), 1-Curil Baille

Replacements:

16-Christopher Tolofua, 17-Uini Atonio, 18-Eddy Ben Arous, 19-Julien Le Devedec, 20-Charles Ollivon, 21-Maxime Machenaud, 22-Henry Chavancy, 23-Djibril Camara