France give Baptiste Serin his chance on the Six Nations stage
France boss Guy Noves will throw Baptiste Serin in for his RBS 6 Nations debut against England at Twickenham on Saturday after deciding the time has come to see what the young scrum-half can do on the big stage.
The 22-year-old Bordeaux Begles number nine takes over from Maxime Machenaud after impressing Noves during last June's Argentina tour and in France's autumn internationals, when as a replacement in matches against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand he caught the eye.
Serin made his senior France debut against the Pumas, being handed that chance after Noves' first Six Nations campaign as coach of Les Bleus saw wins over Italy and Ireland followed by defeats to Wales, Scotland and England.
The Bordeaux number nine has impressed for his club, showing dazzling trickery at times, and Noves senses he can take his form onto the international stage as France look to make a flying start against the reigning Grand Slam champions.
Noves said: "A year ago Maxime was our third choice scrum-half and he became number one. But Baptiste had a very good tour in Argentina and some good appearances off the bench in November, therefore it seemed judicious to us to see him in a tough match.
"We're convinced we can count on him in the future but we want to try him out in a difficult situation."
Noves added, according to L'Equipe: "If we trust him, he has to show his qualities in the toughest situations. To only play in the lesser matches, that doesn't seem smart to me.
"Some people want to see him start, others (want him) to come on in the course of a match. We have made this choice.
"We're working on the future, we don't have too many matches therefore it seemed judicious for us to see him in this match, knowing that Maxime is on the bench and that other scrum-halves are pushing behind him."
Machenaud drops to the bench despite starting in each of France's three autumn games.
Serin is joined in the half-backs by Clermont fly-half Camille Lopez, with Gael Fickou handed his chance at inside centre due to Wesley Fofana's Achilles injury, which rules him out of the championship. Hooker Guilhem Guirado captains the side.
France team to play England at Twickenham on Saturday, February 4:
Scott Spedding, Noa Nakaitaci, Remi Lamerat, Gael Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa, Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin; Cyril Baille, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Uini Atonio, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Yoann Maestri, Damien Chouly, Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles.
Replacements: Clement Maynadier, Rabah Slimani, Xavier Chiocci, Arthur Iturria, Loann Goujon, Maxime Machenaud, Jean Marc Doussain, Yoann Huget.