New Zealand vs. France: Six French players to watch in summer Tests

France have a huge task ahead of them against New Zealand but who could stand out in the summer Tests? Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

Now that the Top 14 season is finally over, attention focuses on the three-Test June international series between France and the All Blacks in New Zealand -- as well as the two-match tour of the A-side, France Barbarians.

Three players in Jacques Brunel's 32-strong squad -- Benjamin Fall, Kelian Galletier, and Mathieu Babillot -- featured in Saturday's Top 14 final, so will not be available for the first Test at Eden Park on Saturday.

While Fall and Gallietier have been replaced for the opening match by Djibril Camara and Judicael Cancoriet, who have been called-up from the Barbarians squad, some names and potential threats of this French side are old news.

The power of Mathieu Bastareaud, the player-marshalling talent of little general Morgan Parra, and the try-scoring joie de vivre of Teddy Thomas are no secrets but there are less well-known players who could make a big impact in the land of the long white cloud.

Mathieu Babillot (Castres Olympique)

It's a real surprise that Castres' 24-year-old backrower -- who is unavailable for the opening Test after playing all 80 minutes of the Top 14 final in Paris on Saturday -- still only has one full international cap to his name, such is his sheer ability on either flank. A natural-born leader, Babillot was named vice-captain of his club at the start of the season, and takes the captaincy role when Rodrigo Capo Ortega is absent. He has impressed, too, guiding older heads at the championship-winning club with a calm wisdom beyond his years.

Pierre Bourgarit (La Rochelle)

Given the inexperience of the France squad in New Zealand -- only the recalled Morgan Parra boasts more than 50 caps -- you may have expected to see more than two uncapped players in the squad. Rochelais' hooker Bourgarit is one of those two - and, while he's likely to be Brunel's third-choice at the start of the tour, it surely will cannot be long before his explosive running in the loose, solid scrumming and solid lineout work is noticed.

Djibril Camara (Stade Francais)

The winger's chance in the main squad may have come late, and only because first-choice Benjamin Fall is unavailable for the opening match on Saturday, but Camara has the quicksilver pace and nought-to-plenty acceleration that means defenders give him an inch at their peril. He has just four caps to his name after making his debut in 2016, but a good season with a rejuvenated Stade -- where he has played all his professional career since 2007 -- could see him make the plane for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Geoffrey Doumayrou (La Rochelle)

A stereotypical French puzzle-player, a midfield mystery wrapped in a Gallic enigma. Doumayrou could -- and maybe should -- boast a hatful of caps, rather than just the six he currently has. Greg Cooper, his former coach at Stade Francais where he played more than 100 games in five seasons before moving to the Atlantic coast in 2017, believes that he would have had many more internationals under his belt had he been born in New Zealand. Still to really spark at international level -- but maybe breathing in that rarified All Black air will light the fire of his potential.

Felix Lambey (Lyon)

Flame-haired Lyon lock Lambey is the French squad's only other uncapped player. Chances are he would have some by now, but for the fact he was one of the notorious Edinburgh eight, who were temporarily stood down following that Six Nations night out in Scotland. He's a human javelin at the lineout, has an engine that never dies and will tackle everything and anything within reach. And he's still barely scratched the surface of his talent, according to Lyon coach Pierre Mignoni. If he stays fit, he could be at least half the answer to a second-row problem that has plagued French rugby for some time.

Fabien Sanconnie (Brive)

The blockbusting back row is another player who really should have had a boatload of caps -- but a series of unfortunate injuries combined with the vagaries of French selection in recent years mean the 23-year-old can still count his international appearances on the fingers of one hand. Great things are expected of Sanconnie, a protege of that legendary France flanker Olivier Magne. In an area of the game in which France a blessed with serious talent at the moment, that's saying something.