Captain Jason Baitieri walks out on France national team

Drew Darbyshire

France captain Jason Baitieri will not play this autumn’s Test matches after becoming frustrated with the “lack of professionalism” of the nation’s governing body.

Baitieri was set to lead France against the Junior Kangaroos and Western Division this autumn – but he has pulled out of playing after becoming annoyed with the French Rugby League Federation and its level of professionalism.

Many of France’s top players did not make the trip Down Under for the World Cup Nines – Morgan Escare, Romain Navarrete, Theo Fages, Mark Kheirallah, Gadwin Springer and Tony Gigot, to name a few.

And Baitieri wants his withdrawal from the team to highlight the off-field problems with France’s decline  on the international stage.

In an interview with French publication L’Independant, Baitieri said: “After a long and delicate reflection and with a lot of emotions, I decided not to participate in the last two matches with the France team.

“As a captain, it is harder and harder for me to hide my enormous suffering and disgust. I spent 10 beautiful years in France team where we have always worked together with honour but the last three years, I play mainly for my team-mates, the staff, my family and especially my country.

“As long as the federation is what it is today, I can no longer wet my blue jersey as I have always done and I fully assume the potential impact. The lack of professionalism weighs on the entire preparation of sports events.

“Things need to change so that our sport continues to move in the right direction, with seriousness and rigour, because rugby league suffers enormously and not only in our country, but also internationally.”

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