Baitieri relishing French debut


New Catalans Dragons signing, forward Jason Baitieri, cannot wait to pull on the Tricolours of France in the forthcoming Alitalia European Cup.

Picked for the first time for his country by coach Bobbie Goulding, the 21-year-old back rower will then play in Super League for the Perpignan-based Dragons in 2011 after signing from Sydney Roosters.

“I was born in Paris but I left France when I was seven years old and have no distinctive memories of the French capital apart from it being always cold,” he declared.

“I always said that if I had the opportunity to play for France I definitely would, it will be a tremendous honour especially, if we win the European Cup, there will be a chance to face the Kangaroos next year.”

Initially graded with Parramatta – and their under 20’s ‘Player of the Year’ last season – he captained the Australian Schoolboys in 2007 and toured England and France with the Australian Institute of Sport side the same year.

“Unfortunately on tour I snapped my ACL had a knee reconstruction which kept me out for six months but I had no hesitation in heading back over.”

“The European Cup is my first priority,” he continued. “I’m really just concentrating on playing good rugby, meeting the other players and having a good relationship with them first. Then I’ll worry about how we go on the field but, saying that, I think every team in the tournament has a chance of winning it.”

Wales are the defending Champions but France make their first appearance in the re-vamped four nation’s format and will start as favourites, with home games against the Dragons, Scotland and Ireland.

“I’m really looking forward to it, Mum’s happy I’m playing for France and, hopefully, I’ll make her proud. After that I’ll join up with the Dragons.”

“I heard Catalans was a great club and I’m really looking forward to going over there. We keep up with what is going on in Super League and I can’t wait to get started,” he continued.

“I think it will suit my style of play; my game’s based on being a workhorse, I love defending, I leave all the fancy stuff up to the backs.”