Killian Tixeront will captain France Under-20s in the Six Nations opener against Italy at the Stade Guy Boniface in Mont de Marsan.
The Clermont back-rower returns for his second year at this level and is joined in a strong back row by Théo Ntamack, younger brother of France fly-half Romain, and Mont de Marsan flanker Léo Banos, a standout in Pro D2 this season.
There is a trend of players who are featuring regularly in the second flight in the side, with Bayonne prop Matis Perchaud and Agen centre Emilien Gailleton, two more who have considerable experience at senior level.
Meanwhile lock Hugo Auradou, whose father David played for France in the 1990s, made his European bow this season with Pau.
Manager Jean-Marc Béderède explained the thinking behind the team, saying: “Over the course of our preparation, starting last week, we have built up our knowledge of the players and been able to observe their complementarity. It’s a first element because the objective is to create the most effective team possible.
“We are looking to manage the players with an evolution of the team line-ups over the whole of the Championship. We had to make a choice but the idea remains that we are starting with a squad of 45 and our organisation is based on the entirety of the competition.”
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) February 2, 2022
France team to face Italy
15. Max Auriac, 14. Axel Bevia, 13. Emilien Gailleton, 12. Louis Le Brun, 11. Enzo Reybier, 10. Emile Deyral, 9. Baptiste Jauneau, 1. Matis Perchaud, 2. Victor Montgaillard, 3. Robin Bellemand, 4. Samuel M’Foudi, 5. Hugo Auradou, 6. Léo Banos, 7. Killian Tixeront, 8. Théo Ntamack
Replacements: 16. Benjamin Boudou, 17. Thomas Moukoro, 18. Valentin Simutoga, 19. Raphaël Portat, 20. Malohi Suta, 21. Esteban Capilla, 22. Liam Rimet, 23. Ethan Randle