France eye Australia tour as stepping stone to World Cup
France will travel to Australia eyeing a successful three-test tour ahead of next year’s World Cup, coach Philippe Saint-Andre said on Tuesday.
Les Bleus could only finish fourth this year’s Six Nations, with three victories in their five matches, but Saint-Andre was quick to proclaim his team as potential World Cup winners on English soil next year.
The first step in that mission is a testing tour of Australia.
“Put simply, we have to win the matches,” Saint-Andre said, with his travelling squad to be unveiled on Wednesday.
“It’s the last tour before the World Cup so it’ll be important in that respect, for the team’s spirit.
“We’re going there with a lot of positivity, desire and hope.”
Saint-Andre said no motivation was needed.
“What better challenge exists? We’re going to one of the most beautiful countries in the world to play three test matches in a sport that is not only the profession of the players but also their passion. It’s nothing but good,” said the former captain and winger of the French XV.
“The Australians have made great progress,” he conceded. “They’ve revamped their team since the 2011 World Cup.
“During the November internationals, they really showed off their capabilities.
“They went and won easily in Wales, Italy and Ireland. It’ll be a very high level but it’s only by playing the best that you improve.”
Saint-Andre acknowledged that some players would not make the trip down under.
“Some will be rested,” he said. “I’ve had chats with some Top 14 coaches and some players really need a rest because they’re a bit burnt out.”
Saint-Andre said he had been buoyed by his team’s performance in the Six Nations, which ended with a 22-20 defeat by eventual champions Ireland.
“I was even more so happy given the huge numbers of ‘leaders’ who were missing or who we lost through injury in the tournament, such as Thierry Dusautoir, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Morgan Parra, Benjamin Kayser and Dimitri Szarzewski."
The tests against the Wallabies will run on concurrent Saturdays starting on June 7.