The Friday night lights of the Stade de France will shine down on the opening game of this year’s tournament and what an unpredictable match to try and call.
France were genuinely terrible in the Autumn as they threw away a last minute lead to South Africa before being humiliated in their own back yard by Fiji.
One notable absentee from the match day squad is Mathieu Bastareaud, who drops out of the 23 completely to make way for 19 year old, Toulouse centre, Romain Ntamack.
South African born Paul Willemse will also make his debut in the second row following his first call up since qualifying to play on residency grounds having spent three years plying his trade in France.
He adds significant weight to a hefty pack which totals over 150 stone.
Morgan Parra returns at scrum-half for his first Six Nations match since 2015 and he partners Camille Lopez to form the half-back pairing.
Tomos Williams will start at scrum-half for Wales and makes his debut ahead of the more experienced Gareth Davies who can only find a seat on the bench.
Williams will be partnered by his regional fly-half team mate Gareth Anscombe who gets the nod over Dan Biggar.
Up front, Ken Owens will become the most capped Welsh hooker of all time in his 61st appearance and in contrast to France’s pack, Wales have picked a lighter weight back row of Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric.
Those three men will be key to Wales’ success on Friday but also keep your eye on Aaron Wainwright. The 21 year old Dragon will be making his second appearance off the bench for Wales and the back rower will be a name that you will be hearing on the international stage for many years to come.
Every time France seem to be taking a step in the right direction, they follow it up with a match like the Fiji debacle.
Morgan Parra and Wesley Fofana coming back into the team can only be a positive and they will certainly put young Ntamack at ease on his first start.
The issue that I think will scupper them the most on Friday night though will be the size of their pack.
There is a lack of balance there and if they think that they’ll be able to bully Wales then the men in blue are in for a rude awakening.
Wales’ back row will be too quick for them and all three of them are brilliant at getting over the ball at the ruck.
Les Bleus will look to try and dictate the pace of the game with Parra’s technical nous, box kicking and sizeable pack but Wales are on an upward curve at the moment and full of confidence with their more expansive game plan.
It might be a bit of an arm wrestle in parts but Wales will pull away in the final 20 minutes.
WALES BY 9