The next team to be previewed ahead of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup is France. Boasting a lot of local French players as one would expect, they are another nation capable of mounting a challenge against the heavyweights.
Jean Philippe Baile (Catalans Dragons), William Barthau (Catalans Dragons), Andrew Bentley (Toulouse Olympique XIII), Kane Bentley (Toulouse Olympique XIII), Thomas Bosc (Catalans Dragons), Damien Cardace (Catalans Dragons), Remi Casty (Catalans Dragons), Vincent Duport (Catalans Dragons), Olivier Elima (Catalans Dragons), Morgan Escare (Catalans Dragons), Theo Fages (Salford Red Devils), Jamal Fakir (Catalans Dragons), Benjamin Garcia (Brisbane Broncos), Tony Gigot (Sporting Olympique Avignon XIII), Clint Greenshields (North Queensland Cowboys), Younes Khattabi (Carpentras), Kevin Larroyer (Catalans Dragons), Antoni Maria (Catalans Dragons), Gregory Mounis (Catalans Dragons), Eloi Pelissier (Catalans Dragons), Sebastian Raguin (St Esteve XIII Catalan), Mickael Simon (Catalans Dragons), Cyril Stacul (FC Lezignan XIII), Frederic Vaccari (Catalans Dragons)
Head coach: Richard Agar
Led by Wakefield Wildcats coach Richard Agar, the French side possess an array of talent and the best of France has to offer, with many of the stars from Super League side the Catalan Dragons named and raring to go.
Their chances will hinge on how the likes of Thomas Bosc, Vincent Duport, Olivier Elima, Morgan Escare and several others play and perform, as well as some of their fringe players.
What may work in their favour throughout the competition, is that given so much of the squad is made up of players from Catalans, team cohesion may come easier for them than it would for other teams.
Those that are North Queensland Cowboys fans or NRL fans may recognise one name in the French squad, with former fullback Clint Greenshields named to play.
Two other players in the side that have played in Australia are Cronulla Sharks NSW Cup utility Tony Gigot and former Brisbane Bronco, Benjamin Garcia.
With some potent players across the squad, the French will be looking to make themselves known and heard in the World Cup, as they look to overshadow the likes of Australia, New Zealand and England.
With New Zealand, Samoa and PNG in their group, you would expect France to finish second but the emergence of a strong Samoan team will push France hard for that second placed spot.
Overall, of all the smaller rugby league nations, France are perhaps one of the most experienced from the bunch and will look to use that heading into the World Cup and you’d expect them to come out of their group.
Here’s the side I’d go with:
1. Morgan Escare
2. Frederic Vaccari
3. Younes Khattabi
4. Cyril Stacul
5. Vincent Duport
6. Thomas Bosc
7. Theo Fages
8. Remi Casty
9. Eloi Pelissier
10. Michael Simon
11. Andrew Bentley
12. Gregory Mounis
13. Olivier Elima
14. Benjamin Garcia
15. Tony Gigot
16. Kevin Larroyer
17. Sebastien Raguin