Foul-mouthed Bastareaud makes France comeback
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Mathieu Bastareaud made his return to the France Six Nations team to face Italy named by coach Jacques Brunel on Wednesday following a three-week ban for using a homophobic slur.
Brunel has made five changes to the team that lost 26-32 to Scotland 10 days ago ahead of Friday's encounter in Marseille.
Given that eight players were handed a one-game international ban after a late-night drinking session in Edinburgh following the Scotland defeat, Bastareaud's return was widely expected among a raft of enforced changes.
He was part of Brunel's initial pre-Six Nations squad announced in January before being handed the ban for insulting Treviso's Sebastian Negri in a European Champions Cup match.
Toulon's Bastareaud replaces Remi Lamerat of Clermont at outside centre as four of the five changes are in the backs.
Benjamin Fall comes off the bench and into the starting XV in place of Six Nations top try-scorer Teddy Thomas at right wing while on the opposite flank Remy Grosso replaces Virimi Vakatawa, one of two changes not induced by the Edinburgh suspensions.
The other sees Hugo Bonneval start at fullback instead of Geoffrey Palis while the only forward change is at lock where Paul Gabrillagues takes the place of Arthur Iturria.
France: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Benjamin Fall, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Rémy Grosso, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Replacements: 16 Adrien Pelissié, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Kélian Galletier, 21 Baptiste Couilloud, 22 François Trinh-Duc, 23 Gaël Fickou.
Date: Friday, February 23
Venue: Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Kick-off: 21.00 (20.00 GMT, 21.00 Italian Time)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)