Penaud, Taofinenua test positive for COVID-19 as France make changes for Wales

Damian Penaud has tested positive for COVID-19, ruling him out of this weekend's Test. Stu Forster/Getty Images

France duo Romain Taofifenua and Damian Penaud have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing coach Fabien Galthie to make changes from the team who beat Scotland for Friday's Six Nations clash against Wales.

"We were notified this morning that they were positive so we had to make last-minute changes," Galthie told a news conference on Wednesday.

With Penaud, who started the game against Scotland that France won 36-17 at Murrayfield, out, Yoram Moefana will switch to the right wing and Gabin Villiere will be coming in on the left wing.

Galthie said more changes could be coming before kick off at the Millennium Stadium as further tests will be conducted.

"We're getting ready to make other changes," he added.

Scrum-half Antoine Dupont, who left Tuesday's training session after taking a knock on his arm, and fly-half Romain Ntamack, who was rested on Tuesday with a bout of flu, were both named in the starting lineup.

France got off to a perfect start in the Six Nations, beating Italy, Ireland and Scotland, and a victory against Wales would set up a potential title decider against England at the Stade de France.

Les Bleus have not won the championship since 2010, the year of their last Grand Slam.

"Being the favourites will not mean anything on Friday," general manager Raphael Ibanez said. "In the last 10 years, Wales won the Six Nations four times. We have not."

Meanwhile, coach Wayne Pivac has made four changes to his Wales side to face France in the Six Nations on Friday, including two in the back row as Josh Navidi and Seb Davies are brought in to counter the power of the visitors' pack at the Principality Stadium.

Experienced centre Jonathan Davies and prop Gareth Thomas are the other changes as Pivac continues his run of never having selected the same starting XV twice in a row in his 26 matches in charge.

Openside flanker Navidi is rushed back into service after injury and makes his first appearance for the side since the 32-30 loss to France in last year's competition.

Seb Davies will be on the blindside and also plays his first game in this year's competition.

"Josh is a fantastic player and has played well for us in the past," Pivac said.

"He's come straight back into the side before so having 80 minutes under his belt for Cardiff, we think that's enough for him and we look forward to him being back out there bringing that experience.

"Seb at six just gives us a little bit more size. It helps the lineout, but also in the wider channels where he often runs. He's got the skillset to trouble a few defenders out wide."

The recently returned Taulupe Faletau keeps his place at number eight, while Thomas joins hooker Ryan Elias and fellow prop Tomas Francis in the front row. Will Rowlands and Adam Beard are the lock pairing.

Captain Dan Biggar and Tomos Williams continue their half-back pairing, but Jonathan Davies will add muscle to the midfield alongside Owen Watkin.

The back three remains unchanged with Josh Adams and Alex Cuthbert selected on the wings and Liam Williams at fullback.

Louis Rees-Zammit is recalled to the match-day 23 and starts on the bench after being dropped for the 23-19 loss to England last time out.

"Any team that can score 40 points against New Zealand, plus having recently beaten Ireland in this competition, are going to be hard to beat," Pivac said of France.

"They have a number of world class players and are a big side that will test us physically and at the set piece."

France XV

Melvyn Jaminet, Yoram Moefana, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont, Gregory Alldritt, Anthony Jelonch, Francois Cros, Paul Willemse, Cameron Woki, Uini Atonio, Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille


Peato Mauvaka, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Mohamed Haouas, Thibaud Flament, Dylan Cretin, Maxime Lucu, Thomas Ramos, Matthis Lebel

Wales XV

Liam Williams; Alex Cuthbert, Owen Watkin, Jonathan Davies, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Josh Navidi, Taulupe Faletau.


Dewi Lake, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Ross Moriarty, Jac Morgan, Kieran Hardy, Gareth Anscombe, Louis Rees-Zammit.