Key French backs Antoine Dupont and Damian Penaud have been passed fit to play in the World Cup quarter-final against Wales and were included in the starting line-up.
Scrum-half Dupont had a back problem while winger Penaud had an abdominal strain but both men, who have been in sharp form in Japan and in the warm-up games, have recovered well enough to play at Oita Stadium on Sunday.
Jaques Brunel has largely returned to the team that started their opening game over Argentina, though with Bernard Le Roux starting instead of Arthur Iturria in the second row.
However, there was no place in the 23 for exciting winger Alivereti Raka, a try-scorer against the United States and Tonga.
Mindful of how his team started strongly in all three pool games but were then pegged back by Argentina, the United States and Tonga, coach Brunel stressed the importance of maintaining the intensity for 80 minutes on Sunday.
“We don’t want to go back to France, but if we are to stay here we will need to play a full game,” he said.
“We’re playing one of the top three teams in the world, its a hell of a challenge, but, if we play with consistency, we have a chance.”
Brunel also said he was surprised that Wales fly-half Dan Biggar had been cleared to play despite suffering two head knocks in the pool games. Under French Federation (FFR) rules he would have been sidelined, he added.
“Everyone takes their responsibilities,” he said. “If we were in the Top 14, two concussions means three weeks out. With the FFR protocol he would not be allowed to play.”
France have won only one of the teams’ last eight meetings since beating Wales in the semi-finals of the 2011 tournament.
Full-back Maxime Medard is the only survivor from that match in New Zealand. Brunel, though, said there was no inferiority complex despite the dire run of results, pointing out that many of the defeats had been in very tight games.
“I’ve never thought the team doubted their ability to beat the Welsh,” he said. “They have a strong defence and good systems. They kept Australia in their own 22 in the early part of their pool game and I expect they’ll try to do the same with us.
“We’re the underdogs, but that doesn’t stop us fully.