Prop Reda Wardi, a Heineken Champions Cup winner with Stade Rochelais last season, has been brought into the France starting XV for their Test against Japan in Toulouse on Sunday.
Wardi, who came off the bench in last season’s Heineken Champions Cup final and will be a key part of La Rochelle’s bid to retain the trophy this season, is one of three changes made by France head coach Fabien Galthie.
Union Bordeaux-Bègles scrum-half Maxime Lucu steps in for 2021 EPCR European Player of the Year Antoine Dupont, with the Stade Toulousain star suspended after his red card against South Africa last weekend.
Lock Romain Taofifenua, who will be competing in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup with Lyon after their EPCR Challenge Cup triumph last campaign, is also called in ahead of Toulouse’s Thibaud Flament.
Happy birthday to the reigning World Player of the Year and 2021 EPOTY 🤩
Will @StadeToulousain’s @Dupont9A still be the best 9 in #HeinekenChampionsCup this season? pic.twitter.com/RutuYxglWY
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) November 15, 2022
With Wardi replacing Cyril Baille, three Toulouse players have dropped out of the team, but the five-time winners of EPCR’s elite competition still boast four men in the side – hooker Julien Marchand, flanker Anthony Jelonch, fly-half Romain Ntamack and full-back Thomas Ramos.
Wardi joins clubmate Uini Atonio in the front row, with No.8 Grégory Alldritt and inside centre Jonathan Danty La Rochelle’s other representatives.
Racing 92’s Cameron Woki and Gaël Fickou are at lock and outside centre respectively, with ASM Clermont Auvergne’s Damian Penaud on the right wing and Bordeaux’s Yoram Moefana on the left wing.