Paul Willemse gets first France cap in Friday's Six-Nations opener

Paul Willemse gets first France cap in Friday's Six-Nations opener

Former Bulls lock Paul Willemse, who left for France as a 21-year-old, will make his test debut for France in Friday’s Six Nations opener against Wales in Paris.

The former Junior Springbok went to France in 2014, has the three years of residency required by World Rugby regulations and received his French passport in November.

Willemse will be the 11th South African player to represent France in international rugby.

Also making his debut against the Welsh in midfield will be Romain Ntamack, the 19-year-old son of ex-France back Emile. Ntamack is preferred to vice-captain Mathieu Bastareaud, whose latest dramatic fall from favour means see him out of the match-23.

♦  Welsh rookie Tomos Williams will make his Six Nations debut in the match to add to his six caps to date. The 24-year-old scrum-half has got the nod with regular first choice Gareth Davies named on the bench after thigh problems.

Gareth Anscombe is retained at flyhalf and forms an all-Cardiff half-back partnership with Williams.

With Leigh Halfpenny still recovering from concussion, Liam Williams was selected at full-back, with Josh Adams and George North on the wings. Adams has not played since injuring his hamstring on December 21.

Up front there is a return to the starting line-up at loose-head prop for Rob Evans, with Ken Owens becoming Wales' most capped hooker with his 61st cap.

Teams ‒

France
15 Maxime Medard, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Wesley Fofana, 12 Romain Ntamack, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 3 Uini Antonio, 2 Guilhelm Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot. Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Felix Lambey, 20 Gregory Alldritt, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Gael Fickou, 23 Geoffrey Doumayrou

Wales
15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans. Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Owen Watkin.