Flanker Loann Goujon replaces Damien Chouly in coach Guy Noves’s solitary change to his France team announced on Friday to face Scotland in the Six Nations on Sunday.
France made a positive start to their tournament campaign last week but still went down 19-16 to England at Twickenham and Noves has kept faith with almost his entire starting line-up.
It means young Bordeaux-Begles scrum-half Baptise Serin, who only made his France debut in June, retains his place ahead of Maxime Machenaud.
Goujon, 27, will win his 15th cap as he replaces veteran Chouly, 31, who drops to the bench.
It’s Goujon’s first start since he was injured in France’s 52-8 win over Samoa at the beginning of November.
Although losing to last season’s Grand Slam winners a week ago, France posted some impressive statistics during the match, making more yards, more offloads and beating more defenders than England over the 80 minutes.
All that was lacking was points on the board and Noves has retained 21 of his match-day 23, the only other changes seeing forwards Christopher Tolofua and Julien Le Devedec come onto the bench in place of hooker Clement Maynadier and lock Arthur Iturria.
“It’s normal (not to make many changes) if changing everything means that we’re not satisfied with what happened — when you lose a match by three points in England in the last nine minutes,” said Noves.
“For the most part the lads delivered, even though once again we need to develop more character to finish matches in the right way.”
Noves said Goujon would give his side more power.
“We wanted a little more density in the pack, although they’re two very similar players,” said Noves.
“The aim is to be a bit more powerful.”
Noves keeps faith with tighthead Uini Atonio despite the New Zealand-born front-rower being penalised several times against England.
His second half replacement Rabah Slimani made an instant impact and scored France’s only try of the game.
“We wanted to see if Uini has understood what we’ve told him and whether he’ll perform differently. We wanted to offer him an olive branch,” Noves said of the 26-year-old former Samoa youth international.
France’s defensive statistics were also better than England’s with fewer errors and tackles missed.
But for the third time in a matter of three months, they lost a closely-fought encounter against a top side following test defeats to Australia (25-23) and New Zealand (24-19) in November.
“It’s true that against Australia we could have won but didn’t; against New Zealand we had a chace at the end and lost by little; against England we lost at the end: it’s annoying,” said Noves.
They welcome a buoyant Scotland who were in fine form a week ago as they eased past highly-fancied Ireland 27-22 at Murrayfield.
“They had a tough year or two but now their work is starting to bear fruit,” Noves said of the Scots.
“You can see that physically and technically they’re not the same Scotland of a few years ago.”
Two yeas ago, Scotland finished bottom of the table with five defeats from five but they have come on leaps and bounds since then under New Zealander Vern Cotter.
They were a minute away from knocking Australia out of the World Cup quarter-finals in late 2015, finished above France in the Six Nations last year and, having run Australia close again in November, they toppled Ireland last week.