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Preview: France v Italy

Giada Franco

Giada Franco will make her first appearance for Italy in 2022 after being named in the starting line-up for their Summer Nations Series clash with France in Nice on Saturday.

The powerful back-rower missed the entirety of the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations through injury, but returns for the Azzurre as they build up their preparations for the World Cup.

They face a tough challenge against a French side who finished as runners-up in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations and will head to New Zealand as contenders to lift the trophy.

But Italy coach Andrea di Giandomenico has named a strong team, led by skipper Manuela Furlan at full-back.

She is joined in the back three by Aura Muzzo and Maria Magatti, while Alyssa D’Inca and Michela Sillari make up the centre pairing.

Sara Barattin joins Beatrice Rigoni in the half-backs, the latter having shone when the two sides met in March.

In the back row, Franco will line up alongside Elisa Giordano and Ilaria Arrighetti, while Giordana Duca and Valeria Fedrighi start in the second row.

Lastly, props Silvia Turani and Lucia Gai will pack down either side of Melissa Bettoni in the front row.

It is a hugely experienced side, with 12 of the starting XV boasting at least 25 caps, while Sofia Stefan adds more experience on a bench which also features debutant Emma Stevanin.

France have a debutant of their own from the off with Charlotte Escudero named in the back row alongside skipper Gaëlle Hermet and No.8 Romane Ménager.

The front five all started the Grand Slam clash with England, Annaëlle Deshaye, Agathe Sochat and Clara Joyeux in the front row, while Madoussou Fall joins Céline Ferer at lock, the latter moving up from flanker.

The backline also has a familiar feel to it, with Laure Sansus and Caroline Drouin forming the half-back pairing, while the versatile Chloé Jacquet slots in at 12 next to Maëlle Filopon.

With Jacquet in the centres, Emilie Boulard comes back in at full-back, joined by Marine Ménager and Mélissande Llorens on the wings.

There are some returns on the bench where scrum-half Pauline Bourdon and tighthead Rose Bernadou could feature after missing the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, while Lina Queyroi could join Blagnac colleague Escudero in making her international debut.

France: 15. Emilie Boulard, 14. Mélissande Llorens, 13. Maëlle Filopon, 12. Chloé Jacquet, 11. Marine Ménager, 10. Caroline Drouin, 9. Laure Sansus, 1. Annaëlle Deshaye, 2. Agathe Sochat, 3. Clara Joyeux, 4. Céline Ferer, 5. Madoussou Fall, 6. Charlotte Escudero, 7. Gaëlle Hermet (c), 8. Romane Ménager

Replacements: 16. Célia Domain, 17. Coco Lindelauf, 18. Rose Bernadou, 19. Safi N’Diaye, 20. Julie Annery, 21. Pauline Bourdon, 22. Lina Queyroi, 23. Gabrielle Vernier

Italy: 15. Manuela Furlan (c), 14. Aura Muzzo, 13. Michela Sillari, 12. Alyssa D’Inca, 11. Maria Magatti, 10. Beatrice Rigoni, 9. Sara Barattin, 1. Silvia Turani, 2. Melissa Bettoni, 3. Lucia Gai, 4. Valeria Fedrighi, 5. Giordana Duca, 6. Ilaria Arrighetti, 7. Giada Franco, 8. Elisa Giordano

Replacements: 16. Vittoria Vecchini, 17. Gaia Maris, 18. Sara Seye, 19. Isabella Locatelli, 20. Francesca Sgorbini, 21. Sofia Stefan, 22. Emma Stevanin, 23. Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi