While even a convincing victory would not be enough for the Blues to redefine the Black Ferns officially as the second best team in the world, the Women’s Six Nations finalists know that if they can save last week’s success, they will be considered by all. as the team most likely to beat the seemingly unstoppable Red Roses.
Considering some of the big absentees including Rose Bernadou, Madoussou Fall, Marjorie Mayans and now Caroline Boujard, this fall also served to bolster French depth, and they hope to see more development from Coco Lindelauf and Chloé Jacquet at the Pierre-Fabre stadium.
The two changes made by Les Bleues are in the last three where Jacquet, 19, is preferred to Emilie Boulard, one of the breakthrough stars of the Women’s Six Nations. Although he is center, Jacquet will start at the back.
Meanwhile, on the wing Boujard is absent to take his firefighter exams, it is therefore Marie-Aurélie Castel who starts against Cyrielle Banet.
For their part, the Black Ferns have made a slew of changes, including Kelly Brazier from the opening and try-scorer Eloise Blackwell promoted to the starting XI for second.
On the bench, Kendra Reynolds is in line to make her debut.
Key Battle – Caroline Drouin vs. Kelly Brazier
Caroline Drouin was at her best in Pau, pulling the strings alongside Pauline Bourdon in the half-backs as France strode to victory.
She faces a different challenge this week as highly experienced Kelly Brazier lines up opposite her in the Black Ferns No.10 jersey.
Brazier won it all in the ladies and started the final World Cup final inside the center.
With New Zealand having lost all three games so far this fall, their hopes of breaking that duck are likely to rest on Brazier and his partnership with scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge.
France: 15. Chloé Jacquet (Lyon Olympique Universitaire), 14. Cyrielle Banet (Montpellier RC), 13. Maëlle Filopon (Stade Toulousain Rugby), 12. Gabrielle Vernier (Blagnac Rugby Féminin), 11. Marie-Aurélie Castel (Stade Rennais Rugby) , 10. Caroline Drouin (Stade Rennais Rugby), 9. Pauline Bourdon (Stade Toulousain Rugby); 1. Coco Lindelauf (Blagnac Rugby Féminin), 2. Agathe Sochat (Stade Bordelais), 3. Annaëlle Deshayes (Lyon Olympique Universitaire), 4. Céline Ferer (Stade Toulousain Rugby), 5. Audrey Forlani (Blagnac Rugby Féminin), 6 . Gaëlle Hermet (Stade Toulousain Rugby), 7. Romane Ménager (Montpellier RC), 8. Emeline Gros (Montpellier RC)
Substitutes: 16. Caroline Thomas (ASM Romagnat Rugby Féminin), 17. Yllana Brosseau (Stade Bordelais), 18. Clara Joyeux (Blagnac Rugby Féminin), 19. Safi N’Diaye (Montpellier RC) 20. Julie Annery (Stade Français Paris), 21. Laure Sansus (Stade Toulousain Rugby), 22. Morgan Peyronnet (Montpellier RC), 23. Émilie Boulard (RC Chilly Mazarin)
New Zealand: 15 Cheyelle Robins-Reti, 14 Stacey Fluhler, 13 Carla Hohepa, 12 Chelsea Alley, 11 Portia Woodman, 10 Kelly Brazier, 9 Kendra Cocksedge, 1 Philippa Love, 2 Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, 3 Aleisha-Pearl Nelson, 4 Eloise Blackwell , 5 Maiakawanakaulani Roos, 6 Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Les Elder (c), 8 Kennedy Simon
Substitutes: 16 Georgia Ponsonby, 17 Aldora Itunu, 18 Amy Rule, 19 Alana Bremner, 20 Kendra Reynolds, 21 Ariana Bayler, 22 Ruahei Demant, 23 Renee Wickliffe