The Six Nations is back after the first fallow weekend of the tournament as Wales host France at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, kick-off 4.45pm.
It’s been a mixed start to life under Wayne Pivac with a comfortable win over Italy in Cardiff to get the campaign underway but a disappointing loss away at Ireland last time out during which we were second best pretty much all over the field.
There’s still a chance to push for the Six Nations title though, even if a repeat Grand Slam is now off the table, and to do that Wales will have to beat the table-topping French side at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
Les Bleus themselves are under a new coaching regime, with Fabien Galthie heading up the ticket and the familiar face of Shaun Edwards running the defence. Already the results are coming through as first England and then Italy have been dispatched from the Stade de France.
However, the French side have not yet been on the road in this new era, and they have to overcome a poor record against Wales which has spanned the last three head coaches.
The men in red are currently on a run of three straight wins over Les Bleus and have won eight of the last nine games between the two sides in all competitions, with France having not won in Cardiff since 2010.
Most recently the teams met in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final where tries from Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty, as well as the boot of Dan Biggar, secured a 20-19 win, while it was tries from Tomos Williams and a brace from George North, along with Biggar and Gareth Anscombe off the tee that got a 19-24 win in last year’s Six Nations.
With two wins under their belt though there’s not much change for France on the field, with only one injury enforced change to the starting XV as Vincent Rattez drops out after breaking his leg against Italy.
In his place Virimi Vakatawa comes back into the team after starting against England but picking up a knock, as Gael Fickou moves from the centre to the wing.
On the bench there are spots from Jean-Baptiste Gros and Thomas Ramos, while Camille Chat is back involved to cover hooker after missing the opening rounds through injury.
France: Anthony Bouthier, Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon (c), Gregory Alldritt
Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Mathieu Jalibert, Thomas Ramos
While Wales are coming into the game off the back of a loss, Wayne Pivac has avoided making wholesale changes with just two new faces in the starting XV, both of which are tactical decisions.
Ross Moriarty gets the nod at blindside flanker with Aaron Wainwright dropping to the bench, while Gareth Davies is in at scrum-half as Tomos Williams is named as a replacement.
Will Rowlands could make his Wales debut if brought on while Rob Evans is preferred to Rhys Carre to back up at loosehead prop.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau
Replcaments: Ryan Elias, Rob Evans, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Aaron Wainwright, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl
The home side will be really keen to tighten up their defence on Saturday after a showing without the ball that was a real disappointment against Ireland, allowing them to play fast and wide too easily, especially after beating us physically in the centre of the field.
If Wales rectify that area of the game then the attacking game only needs to execute on two or three occasions and there is a great chance to bag the win and extend the Six Nations winning run at the Principality Stadium.
However, miss too many tackles or get the shape wrong again and there is enough quality in this French side to rip us apart. Tone setting and finishing strong will be absolutely key, an interesting game lies in wait.