JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - France left out captain Guilhem Guirado and made 10 changes to their team as they named a side to face South Africa in the first test at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
Manager Guy Noves, announcing his side on Thursday, did not pick any of the seven players from Top 14 finalists Clermont Auvergne and Toulon, who decided the French title last Sunday and only joined up with the touring party in Johannesburg on Tuesday, including Guirado.
Instead lock Yoann Maestri captains a much changed side from their last outing, a 20-18 win over Wales at the end of the Six Nations Championship in March.
Clement Maynadier takes Guirado’s place at hooker for his first start for France and centre Henry Chavancy wins a second cap after a substitute appearance against Ireland earlier this year.
Noves selected a surprise half back pairing of Jules Plisson and Maxime Machenaud with Baptiste Serin left on the bench despite starting all five games in this year’s Six Nations.
Saturday’s test is followed by two more against the Springboks in Durban on June 17 and at Ellis Park in Johannesburg one week later.
Team: 15-Brice Dulin, 14-Yoann Huget, 13-Henry Chavancy, 12-Gael Fickou, 11-Virimi Vakatawa, 10-Jules Plisson, 9-Maxime Machenaud, 8-Louis Picamoles, 7-Loann Goujon, 6-Yacouba Camara, 5-Yoann Maestri (captain), 4-Julien Le Devedec, 3-Uini Atonio, 2-Clement Maynadier, 1-Jefferson Poirot.
Replacements: 16-Camille Chat, 17-Eddy Ben Arous, 18-Mohamed Boughanmi, 19-Bernard le Roux, 20-Kevin Gourdon, 21-Baptiste Serin, 22-Jean-Marc Doussain, 23-Vincent Rattez.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Janet Lawrence