The French squad:
Fabien Devecchi (captain)
|Group 3 news
Probably the best ever prepared French World Cup squad can look forward to winning a place in the knock-out stages of the quarter-finals. Led by coach Gilles Dumas and with the former player Ivan Greseque as manager, the French team have been well drilled in a series of training camps throughout the summer. The strength of the squad reflects the upsurge in standards within France's 'own domestic League competition and the recent inclusion of many of their most promising players in the English Superleague.
The 'Treizistes' hardly lack experience and flair in the backs. French skipper and former Widnes half-back Fabien Devecchi, former Huddersfield three-quarter Yacine Dekkiche and ex-Sheffield Eagles and Wakefield Trinity wings Jean Marc Garcia and Freddie Banquet all look capable of causing problems for South Africa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea in their group.
Up front in the pack, the experience gained by Halifax and Warrington second rowers Gael Tallec and Jerome Guisset will surely complement 'tough nuts' Frederic Teixido and Pascal Jampy, who have borne the brunt in the forwards for France for many years.
Look out for Toulouse's exciting young French centre Jean-Emmanuel Cassin, who has recently returned to the south west of France after a successful season with Aussie NRL club Penrith Panthers. Given good support in the traditional rugby league areas of Carcassonne, Perpignan and Albi, and with the prospect of playing at the famous Charlety Stadium in Paris, France, on home territory, should qualify as group winners for the quarter-final stages.