November 22, 2018 / 8:24 AM / in 5 months

UPDATE 2-Rugby-Fall returns at fullback for France against Fiji

* Fall replaces concussed Medard at fullback

* Prop Slimani gets first start in November

* France have won three of their 10 tests in 2018 (adds quotes)

PARIS, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Benjamin Fall will start at fullback for France as one of two changes to the starting line-up for the final November international against Fiji at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Fall has been included in place of Maxime Medard, who has been ruled out with concussion picked up in last weekend’s 28-13 win over Argentina, only a third victory in 10 matches for France this year.

Medard left the field after only two minutes of that match and was replaced by Fall, who won his first nine caps on the wing before switching to fullback this year under new coach Jacques Brunel.

The other change to the starting line-up sees prop Rabah Slimani replace Cedate Gomes Sa for his first start of the November tests. He was a replacement in both games for France so far, which also include a 29-26 loss to South Africa.

“We have tried to maintain continuity and at the same time expand the group a little bit,” Brunel told reporters on Thursday.

“The choice of Benjamin Fall at fullback was obvious since Maxime Medard could not play in this game.

“As for that of Rabah Slimani, it is justified by the good performances he has had in the first two tests. It was to encourage him to continue in that direction.”

There are two uncapped players among the replacements — 20-year-old prop Demba Bamba and hooker Julien Marchand as Brunel runs through his front-row options.

The coach says he is excited to see what Bamba can offer.

“He has above average qualities in terms of physicality and explosiveness. He will just have to work on intensities he has not come across yet.

“His only handicap is that he is 20 years old.”

Centre Geoffrey Doumayrou is also back on the bench after he missed the victory over Argentina with concussion, a triumph that ended a run of five defeats in a row for France.

Team: 15-Benjamin Fall, 14-Teddy Thomas, 13-Mathieu Bastareaud, 12-Gael Fickou, 11-Yoann Huget, 10-Camille Lopez, 9-Baptiste Serin, 8-Louis Picamoles, 7-Artur Iturria, 6-Wenceslas Lauret, 5-Yoan Maestri, 4-Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3-Rabah Slimani, 2-Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1-Jefferson Poirot.

Replacements: 16-Julien Marchand, 17-Dany Priso, 18-Demba Bamba, 19-Felix Lambey, 20-Kelian Galletier, 21-Antoine Dupont, 22-Anthony Belleau, 23-Geoffrey Doumayrou. (Reporting By Nick Said Editing by John O’Brien/Keith Weir)

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