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Young gun can handle pressure of Test arena, insists Brunel

 

By Andy Newport

France coach Jacques Brunel made bold choices as he named teen Matthieu Jalibert at fly-half for his team's Six Nations opener against Ireland tomorrow.

Jalibert (19), who will make his international debut at the Stade de France three months after starting his first Top 14 match with Bordeaux, has been paired with the in-form Maxime Machenaud after Morgan Parra was ruled out injured.

Jalibert said: "This year is going really fast, everything is happening to me at lightning speed."

Brunel, who took over from Guy Noves after a dismal series of November Tests, said: "Since he's in the squad we believe he is able to play at that level. There is no reason for him not to start.

"He has what it takes to take the lead. He's well integrated in the squad. He is mature enough."

Experienced scrum-half Machenaud will take the conversions and penalties.

Another uncapped player, full-back Geoffrey Palis, will also start as Brunel will be looking to restore France's confidence.

France will rely on Virimi Vakatawa and Teddy Thomas' speed on the wings.

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