Prop Cyril Baille and centre Jonathan Danty make their comeback from injuries after being named in the France team to face Namibia in their third Rugby World Cup match in Marseille on Thursday.
Baille, considered one of the world’s best loose-head props, sustained a calf injury in the pre-tournament warm-up victory over Scotland in August.
Forwards coach William Servat said Baille was “incredibly fresh”.
“His injury certainly deprived him of some of the pre-tournament build-up,” Servat said.
“But he had the chance to work one-on-one with a physical trainer from the France team.
“I feel he is even better than before he was injured. He’s lost a bit of weight and he has regenerated mentally. He’s really up for it.”
Danty sat out the opening two matches of the World Cup with a thigh injury, but has been given the green light to return to a team that closely resembles the one that beat New Zealand 27-13 in the opening game.
“The pair are players who’ve been through all our battles over the last four years, very important figures not only in their positions but also through their experience,” said coach Fabien Galthie.
A second-string side struggled past Uruguay 27-12 last week, and only three from that team keep their place: winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey, lock Cameron Woki and back-rower Anthony Jelonch.
“Louis’ performances speak for themselves,” Galthie said of Bielle-Biarrey. “Since he has been with us he has been very good, he deserves to wear the jersey again.
“He’s someone who has gone into the dressing room to hunt out his jersey. He’s present at every moment.”
No. 8 Gregory Alldritt, a key player for France, is rested with a painful knee, with Jelonch taking his place alongside flankers Charles Ollivon and Francois Cros.
“We took the decision with him during yesterday’s training,” Galthie said of the decision to omit Alldritt.
“Greg felt a little discomfort in his knee so will be rested.”
Antoine Dupont will lead the side from scrum-half and is yet to lose a match on home soil when leading the team in 18 Tests. His only career loss as captain came against Ireland earlier this year in Dublin.
“Quite a few players were rested following the opening match. The next match against Italy is in a couple of weeks so we put out the best team based on current form to achieve the best result,” said Dupont.
Matthieu Jalibert starts at fly-half, with Danty pairing up with Gael Fickou in midfield.
The back three comprises Bielle-Biarrey and Damian Penaud on the wings and Thomas Ramos at full-back.
Thibaud Flament links up with Woki in the second row, while Baille packs down alongside hooker Peato Mauvaka and tight-head prop Uini Atonio.
Turning philosophical about his squad rotation, Galthie concluded: “Our method is based on adaptability.
“It’s a bit like Darwin’s theory: it’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
France will be massive favourites going into the match against Namibia, the African side having already lost 52-8 to Italy and 71-3 to the All Blacks in Pool A.
France wrap up their group stage with a game against Italy in Lyon on October 6.
Thomas Ramos; Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Louis Bielle-Biarrey; Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont (capt); Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon, Francois Cros; Thibaud Flament, Cameron Woki; Uini Atonio, Peato Mauvaka, Cyril Baille
Replacements: Pierre Bourgarit, Reda Wardi, Dorian Aldegheri, Romain Taofifenua, Paul Boudehent, Baptiste Couilloud, Yoram Moefana, Melvyn Jaminet
Coach: Fabien Galthie (FRA)