To that end, he's picked Geoffrey Palis at fullback, Arthur Iturria to lock his second test, and moved Kevin Gourdon from flanker to No. 8 for the first time at worldwide level. The 21-year-old James Ryan will make his Six Nations debut and only his second start, linking up again with Iain Henderson in a youthful second row.
Cian Healy is preferred to Jack McGrath in the front row.
Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, and Josh van der Flier come into the side.
FRANCE: Palis; Thomas, Lamerat, Chavancy, Vakatawa; Jalibert, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Vahaamahina, Iturria, Lauret, Camara, Gourdon.
Replacements: Pelissie, Priso, Gomes Sa, Gabrillagues, Tauleigne, Dupont, Belleau, Fall. Luke McGrath gets the nod ahead of Kieran Marmion as deputy scrum-half, Joey Carbery is the back-up out-half despite limited game-time in the position, while Fergus McFadden covers the backline, despite many speculating that Andrew Conway would fill the 23 jersey.
Eddie Butler: "It will be interesting to see how the number 10s walk off the pitch". However, the inclusion of Matthieu Jalibert, the 19-year-old prodigy who has been playing professional rugby for three months, has potentially thrown a spanner in the works. He must survive and then manage the game, each a mighty challenge in its own right.
Not surprisingly, Sexton is enphasising the importance of a win in Paris before a trio of home games.
Jacques Brunel was appointed in December as France coach to end the rot.
"The favourites tag isn't something that we've talked about or worry about".
After all, as we've seen from years past there's nothing the Welsh enjoy more than coming off the back of a poor season to enjoy title, and even Grand Slam, success, though the odds will be firmly stacked against them. "That suits me very well".
The likely victor is probably to come from either Ireland or England, Eddie Jones' side also having injury worries but their momentum is strong and their desire to gain revenge over Joe Schmidt's men after last year's encounter even stronger.
So, I hope that young Jalibert does well this weekend, I really do.