Bernard Laporte is hoping the game against Italy will provide solutions to their problems at flyhalf.
Laporte has decided to give a few of the fringe players an opportunity as France begin to narrow down their squad for the World Cup. David Skrela is the big selection at No 10 after not playing for his country in six years.
“We want to use the championship to find solutions to our weaknesses,” said team manager Jo Maso. “We also want to give some players the opportunity to prove their worth.
“Make no mistake, we selected this team to win in Rome. With six months to go before the World Cup, we want to prove that we can win it or are at least contenders behind the All Blacks, who are the hot favourites.
“We are going to defend our Six Nations title tooth and nail.”
Skrela played his first game for the Tricolores in 2001 and has not featured since. His selection is due to Frederic Michalak’s knee ailment, as well as the fact that Damien Traille is out of action following a hip injury incurred last weekend.
“The main question at number 10 is the future of Frederic,” said Laporte.”We don’t know if he will come back or not [for the Six Nations]. We gave four games in a row to Damien Traille. Now we want to test David Skrela.”
Sebastian Chabal is another player who has earned a recall after missing the entire 2006 Test season.
Raphael Ibanez will captain the team as Fabien Pelous is still not back from injury.
France – 15 – Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Cedric Heymans, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 Christophe Dominici; 10 David Skrela, 9 Pierre Mignoni, 8 Sebastian Chabal, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Serge Betsen, 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Jerome Thion, 3 Pieter de Villiers, 2 Raphael Ibanez, 1 Oivier Milloud. Subs: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Sylvain Marconnet, 18 Pascal Pape, 19 Imanol Harinordoquy, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Vincent Clerc.