Fabien Galthié has announced his 31-man squad for the upcoming Autumn Nations Cup, with Montpellier prop Mohamed Haouas set to feature again following his sending off against Scotland earlier in the year.
Haouas was red carded in the last 6 Nations played during the regular campaign, following a punch on Scotland’s back-rower Jamie Ritchie at Murrayfield.
The prop has had a history of bust-ups, having got involved in a scrap with Montpellier team-mate Bismarck du Plessis before a Top 14 match.
However, Galthié still sees the positive impact Haouas delivers on the pitch and has made it clear that the forward remains part of the bigger picture for Les Bleus.
Critics will likely argue that Haouas is a live wire and that others such as Demba Bamba are more deserving of the position within the starting XV.
🏴 Les Bleus débuteront leur Tournée d’Automne par un match de préparation contre le Pays de Galles avant la fin du @SixNations_FR et l’@autumnnations !#NeFaisonsXV #XVdeFrance pic.twitter.com/b2l5aMrqd8
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) October 7, 2020
There are rumours that Haouas may be about to be forced out of the Montpellier set-up in an apparent falling out as well which probably doesn’t do his reputation any good.
But these, for now, remain rumours and therefore the benefit of the doubt must be given to a player who has come up through the ranks after a troublesome childhood.
Managed well, and the aftermath of the Murrayfield incident in which Galthié expressed his support for Haouas while condemning his actions, Haouas can turn a page in his young career by getting the game time he needs.
Technically, Haouas is a good scrummager and is as explosive around the fringes as Bamba, which gives Galthié the perfect balance and consistency he’s after.
It’s a well-worn cliché but if Galthié is able to contain Haouas’ volatility and smooth out the rough edges, there’s a potentially long and successful career in the making. Haouas can’t be jettisoned out of the squad for a moment of madness. He’s still young and giving him another chance to show the sort of form Galthié picked him for in the first place, is a testament of the faith the head coach has in his squad.
While the squad has a settled feel to it, given the success of the early part of 2020, there are some new additions. La Rochelle winger Arthur Retière is included in the squad as a replacement for Clermont’s Damian Penaud who was ruled out of the Autumn Nations Cup with an ankle injury.
He joins Vincent Rattez who himself was a late injury replacement for Penaud ahead of the opening 6 Nations match against England – and in which he scored the first try.
In the forwards, George-Henri Colombe-Reazel is added to the squad while Killian Geraci is included in the second-row.
Galthié has retained his half-back options of Antoine Dupont and Baptiste Serin at 9, with first-choice stand-off Romain Ntamack being joined by Matthieu Jalibert.
France kick off their Autumn Nations Cup preparations with a pre-tournament friendly against Wales at the Stade de France on Saturday 24th October (kick-off 21:00 CET).