March 16, 2017 / 9:55 AM / in 4 months

Vahaamahina back for France v Wales clash

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France Rugby - France v Australia - Stade de France, Saint-Denis near Paris, France, 19/11/2016. France's Sebastien Vahaamahina in action during his match against Australia.Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - Lock Sebastien Vahaamahina is back from injury in the France team to face Wales in the only change manager Guy Noves made for their final Six Nations game at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Vahaamahina, who has recovered from a back injury, pushes Julien Le Devedec to the replacements' bench as Noves otherwise stuck with the team who beat Italy 40-18 last weekend.

While previous coach Philippe Saint-Andre tinkered with his pair of halves, Noves kept faith in scrumhalf Baptiste Serin and flyhalf Camille Lopez for the fifth game in a row, even if Francois Trinh-Duc returned from injury last week.

"Camille did his job, he did what he was expected to do, so it is logical that he plays again," Noves told a news conference on Thursday.

"We have a pair that has been working together on the long run. It is interesting even if Francois Trinh-Duc has come back from an injury."

Noves, however, left the door open for Trinh-Duc.

"In June, both of them will have the chance to show their qualities," he said.

France are third in the table after defeats against England and Ireland and victories against Scotland and Italy.

Britain Rugby Union - England v France - Six Nations Championship - Twickenham Stadium, London - 4/2/17 France coach Guy Noves Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne

Victory on Saturday would send them up to second depending on the result of the much-awaited Ireland v England clash.

Wales, however, have won their last five matches against Les Bleus.

"We saw that they were able to prevent Ireland from playing their game with a huge defensive pressure," said Noves.

"For sure, they are ready."

Noves declined to comment on the planned merger between the two Parisian powerhouses, Racing 92 and Stade Francais, after the announcement sent shockwaves through French rugby.

"When the players are here they don't talk to me about their clubs' problems. My job is to prepare the Wales game," he said.

Team:

15-Brice Dulin - 14-Noa Nakaitaci, 13-Remi Lamerat, 12-Gael Fickou, 11-Virimi Vakatawa - 10-Camille Lopez, 9-Baptiste Serin - 8-Louis Picamoles, 7-Kevin Gourdon, 6-Fabien Sanconnie - 5-Yoann Maestri, 4-Sebastien Vahaamahina - 3-Rabah Slimani, 2-Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1-Cyril Baille

Replacements: 16-Camille Chat, 17-Uini Atonio, 18-Eddy Ben Arous, 19-Julien Le Devedec, 20-Damien Chouly, 21-Antoine Dupont, 22-Francois Trinh-Duc, 23-Yoann Huget

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Gareth Jones

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