France backing Posolo Tuilagi to bring energy against Italy

Posolo Tuilagi after Scotland v France match during 2024 Six Nations Posolo Tuilagi will start for France against Italy on Sunday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

France assistant coach Laurent Sempere has praised Posolo Tuilagi for his energy as the lock prepares to make his first start for Les Bleus against Italy in the Six Nations.

The 19-year-old has been named in the starting XV for Sunday’s Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy clash at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.

After losing their opening game to Ireland, France bounced back with a dramatic victory against Scotland at Murrayfield, leaving them fourth in the table ahead of the third round of matches.

Tuilagi has featured from the bench in both games so far and co-coach Sempere was full of praise for the teenager.

He told the French Rugby Federation website: “Posolo is one of the players who brought a lot of energy at the end of the match in Scotland, which he had already done when he came on against Ireland.

“Today we decided that he should start the game against Italy. It was his performances during training with us, and at each of his appearances, that ensured that he won this starter jersey.”

Blindside flanker Paul Boudehent also comes into the starting line-up as the 2022 champions look to extend their dominant record against Italy.

The Azzurri have not beaten France in 11 years, with their last win coming in February 2013 in Rome – since when Les Bleus have won 14 straight meetings.

Having lost their opening two games to England and Ireland, Italy are at the foot of the table and are searching for their first win of this year’s campaign.

Quesada has shuffled the pack for the France clash as inside centre Federico Mori returns to the XV for the first time in nearly two years and scrum-half Martin Page-Relo makes his first Six Nations start.

Zebre second-rower Matteo Canali could make his debut from the bench, while Ross Vintcent and Riccardo Favretto are also handed their first Azzurri starts and Quesada is hoping Italy can “impose” their ideas.

He told the Italian Rugby Federation website: “I didn’t count how many changes I made in the line-up compared to the Ireland match. We are adapting to Sunday’s game and dealing with some injuries.

“The group is the same one that worked for three weeks together. I’m working hard to give maximum opportunities to the players we feel are ready – let’s try to maintain our commitment.

“France will want to bring a lot of physicality but we have to play our game and impose our game ideas.”

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