France have named an ominously strong squad for the Six Nations

PHILIPPE SAINT-ANDRÉ has named a strong 31-man squad ahead of the 2015 Six Nations, with the uncapped Clermont wing Nao Nakaitaci included.

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The Fiji-born winger previously played for France in a non-Test match against the Blues on the 2013 tour of New Zealand, but his electric form in the Top 14 and Champions Cup [including a try against Munster] has him in contention for a first cap.

Toulouse number eight Louis Picamoles, Racing Métro pair Brice Dulin and Eddy Ben Arous, prop Rabah Slimani of Stade Français and Bordeaux wing Sofiane Guitoune all return to Saint-André’s squad after missing the November Test series.

Elsewhere, the usual suspects such as Nicolas Mas, captain Thierry Dusautoir, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana and Yoann Maestro provide quality, while Clermont’s Camille Lopez looks set to retain the number 10 shirt as his superb run of performances continues.

South Africa-born trio Rory Kockott, Bernard Le Roux and Scott Spedding retain their spots in the squad, while mammoth New Zealand native Uini Atonio is present again.

Two exciting young players to watch are Bayonne’s 21-year-old number eight Charles Ollivon, who has been excellent in the Top 14 this season, and wing sensation Teddy Thomas, who scored four tries in November before being dropped for missing training.

The major ommision from the group is Racing Métro’s 79-times capped hooker Dimitri Szarzewski, while Morgan Parra is again left out.

Munster know all about Nakaitaci’s quality on the ball. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

This is the most balanced squad Saint-André has named in some time, and after the up-and-down nature of his tenure so far, it appears that the looming 2015 Rugby World Cup is focusing the enigmatic head coach’s mind.

Ireland play France in Dublin on Saturday 14 February, while they also face Les Blues in Pool D of the World Cup on October 11.

31-man France training squad for Six Nations: 

Props: Eddy Ben Arous (Racing Métro), Alexandre Menini (Toulon), Nicolas Mas (Montpellier), Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Rabah Slimani (Stade Français)

Hookers: Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Guilhem Guirado (Toulon)

Locks: Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Français), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Papé (Stade Français), Romain Taofifenua (Toulon)

Back rows: Damien Chouly (Clermont), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, captain), Bernard Le Roux (Racing-Métro), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Charles Ollivon (Bayonne), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)

Half-backs: Rory Kockott (Castres), Sébastien Tillous-Borde (Toulon),Rémi Tales (Castres), Camille Lopez (Clermont)

Centres: Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Remi Lamerat (Castres), Alexandre Dumoulin (Racing Métro)

Back threes: Teddy Thomas (Racing Métro), Sofiane Guitoune (Bordeaux-Bègles), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Noa Nakaitaci (Clermont), Brice Dulin (Racing Métro), Scott Spedding (Bayonne).

No miracles required against Saracens but Munster need smart gameplan‘We can’t get around to every Munster fan to say thank you, but we’d love to’ — Peter O’Mahony

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