Six Nations: Mathieu Bastareaud returns from ban to start for France against Italy

Mathieu Bastareaud
Bastareaud will add significant ball-carrying ability to France's midfield
2018 Six Nations: France v Italy
Venue: Stade Velodrome Date: Friday, 23 February Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, Connected TVs, online and BBC Sport app from 19:30 GMT; text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Centre Mathieu Bastareaud will start in France's midfield against Italy in the Six Nations after completing his three-week ban for a homophobic slur.

The Toulon back, 29, verbally abused Benetton flanker Sebastian Negri in a Champions Cup tie in January.

Coach Jacques Brunel has made five changes to the team that lost 32-26 to Scotland for the game in Marseille.

Benjamin Fall, Remy Grosso, Hugo Bonneval and Paul Gabrillagues also come in to the starting line-up.

Scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud could make his debut from the bench while there is a recall to the replacements for fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc.

Several France players have been dropped for their "inappropriate" behaviour on a night out in Edinburgh following the defeat by Scotland - with Six Nations top try-scorer Teddy Thomas among them.

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Six Nations 2018: Scotland 32-26 France highlights

Scottish police questioned players at Edinburgh airport after a report of a sexual assault but found no crime had been committed.

The French Rugby Union said the players "did not respect their status as international players".

Italy recall Ghiraldini

Leonardo Ghiraldini
Ghiraldini won his first cap for Italy in June 2006

Coach Conor O'Shea makes three changes from the teams that lost 59-19 to Ireland last weekend in Italy's 14th straight Six Nations defeat.

Toulouse's Leonardo Ghiraldini, 33, comes in at hooker to win his 92nd cap and is joined in the front row by Andrea Lovotti.

Lovotti's Zebre team-mate Maxime Mbanda makes his first start in this year's tournament after being picked at flanker.

Italy last beat France in the Six Nations in February 2013, under former coach Jacques Brunel, who took charge of his native France in December.

A 15th successive defeat for the Azzurri would set a new record as the team's longest losing streak in the competition.

France team: Bonneval; Fall, Bastareaud, Doumayrou, Grosso; Beauxis, Machenaud; Slimani, Guirado (captain), Poirot; Vahaamahina, Gabrillagues; Tauleigne, Camara, Lauret.

Replacements: Pelisse, Priso, Gomes Sa, Taofifenua, Galletier, Couilloud, Trinh-Duc, Fickou.

Italy team: Minozzi; Benvenuti, Boni, Castello, Bellini; Allan, Violi; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Mbanda, Parisse (captain).

Replacements: Bigi, Quaglio, Pasquali, Biagi, Ruzza, Gori, Canna, Hayward.

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