Wales captain Sam Warburton has been ruled out of Saturday’s clash with France with a shoulder injury he suffered in last weekend’s loss to Ireland. The flanker will miss the RBS 6 Nations game in Paris due to a stinger injury, with both team’s already hurting from somewhat surprising losses in their first round fixtures.
Ospreys' back-row Ryan Jones will assume the captaincy for a record 30th time, a role he excelled in when he led the Welsh to a dominating Grand Slam in 2005. Warburton will be replaced at openside flanker by Justin Tipuric, whose impact from the bench last week led to many claiming he had to start against France if Wales are to stand a chance.
The chance to impress once again will have Tipuric relishing the occasion, as he continues to put pressure on the current Welsh captain, and Warburton's latest injury comes as another dent to his credentials as a possible leader for the Lions in the summer.
Aaron Shingler is dropped to the bench in favour of Jones following the 30-22 defeat in Cardiff, and hooker Richard Hibbard comes in for Matthew Rees as Rob Howley looks to steady a forward pack that was annihilated by their Irish counterparts in the opening 35 minutes. Lou Reed replaces Harlequins second-row Ollie Kohn in the replacements.
Howley said: "We didn't start the tournament the way we wanted to on the weekend but Saturday is a chance for us to go out and show what we can do.
"We know that we will have to start well and start the way we finished the game against Ireland.
"It's disappointing to have Sam ruled out but Ryan comes in as captain with a wealth of experience.
"Playing France in Paris is always a huge match but we have worked hard as a squad this week and want to deliver a performance we know we are capable of."
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre makes two changes to the side that were outclassed by Italy last week, in what was their second consecutive defeat to the so-called 6 Nations whipping boys.
Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud replaces Florian Fritz, who drops to the bench as a result of the French back-line's lacklustre performance last weekend. Bastareaud's club colleague Jocelino Suta comes in for injured captain Pascal Pape, with former captain and IRB player of the year Thierry Dusautoir skippering the side.
Dusautoir continues his comeback from a 10-month lay-off, and his leadership skills will strengthen a wounded Les Blues side in this must-win clash if either side has any hopes of winning this year's title.
Maxime Machenaud and Frederic Michalak continue their half-back partnership, meaning the brilliant Morgan Parra remains on the bench as Saint-Andre continues to put his faith in the young Racing Metro scrum-half.
France: Y Huget; W Fofana, M Mermoz, M Bastareaud, B Fall; F Michalak, M Machenaud; Y Forestier, D Szarzewski, N Mas, J Suta, Y Maestri, F Ouedraogo, T Dusautoir (capt), L Picamoles.
Replacements: B Kayser, V Debaty, L Ducalon, R Taofifenua, D Chouly, M Parra, F Trinh-Duc, F Fritz.
Wales: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, G North; D Biggar, M Phillips; G Jenkins, R Hibbard, A Jones, A Coombs, I Evans, R Jones (capt), J Tipuric, T Faletau.
Replacements: K Owens, P James, C Mitchell, L Reed, A Shingler, L Williams, J Hook, S Williams.
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