Nakaitaci given chance to stake claim for Six Nations place
PARIS (AP) — France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has included uncapped winger Noa Nakaitaci in a large 31-man squad for a week-long training camp ahead of the Six Nations championship.
The 24-year-old Nakaitaci, who can also play at center, has been in good form this season for Clermont, which is top of the elite Top 14 league.
The Fiji-born Nakaitaci was part of France’s tour to New Zealand in 2013 but did not play.
Prop Eddy Ben Arous, who won his only France cap on that tour, and Castres center Remi Lamerat, who has three caps, were also selected for the training camp to be held in southern France from Jan. 25-31.
France, which finished fourth last year and last in 2013, opens its Six Nations campaign against Scotland on Feb. 7 at Stade de France and travels to Ireland the following week. It then hosts Wales before traveling to play Italy and ending with a potentially title-deciding clash with England at Twickenham on March 21.
Saint-Andre has been rebuilding his squad over the past 18 months with a view to the World Cup later this year. He left out vastly experienced players, such as scrumhalf Morgan Parra, center Maxime Mermoz and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski — who were all part of the France squad that reached the 2011 World Cup final, losing 8-7 to host New Zealand.
Forwards: Uini Antonio, Eddy Ben Arous, Nicolas Mas, Alexandre Menini, Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado, Benjamin Kayser, Alexandre Flanquart, Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape, Romain Taofifenua, Damien Chouly, Thierry Dusautoir, Bernard Le Roux, Yannick Nyanga, Charles Ollivon, Louis Picamoles.
Backs: Rory Kockott, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Camille Lopez, Remi Tales, Mathieu Bastareaud, Alexandre Dumoulin, Wesley Fofana, Remi Lamerat, Sofiane Guitoune, Yoann Huget, Noa Nakaitaci, Teddy Thomas, Brice Dulin, Scott Spedding.