PREVIEW: Australia V France

Tom Trbojevic is the one to watch for the Kangaroos

Australia will look to all but secure top spot in the group with a big win over France on Friday but their opponents will be determined to bounce back from defeat.

The Kangaroos just edged past England 18-4 in the opening game of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup last weekend, with the two teams being the favourites to reach the final.

Meanwhile, France were stunned as they were beaten late on thanks to a fantastic performance from Mitchell Moses who bossed Lebanon around the park.

“Cameron Smith and Billy Slater, it’s like Messi and Ronaldo.” That’s how France star Remy Marginet described the prospect of playing against Australia captain Cameron Smith and star player Billy Slater. That is probably the best way of explaining it.

France star Eloi Pelissier also said that if France do not defend properly in the game then Australia will post over 80 points against them. That is brutal but honest from the hooker.

Australia have made several positional changes with James Maloney, Jordan McLean, Tom Trbojevic, Josh Mansour and Reagan Campbell-Gillard all coming into the starting team.

France have brought Olivier Arnaud in the centres while Marginet will start in the halves, with Maxime Herold featuring in the front-row.

KEY BATTLE

There will be a number of clashes all over the park but the one that stands out is on the wing between Tom Trbojevic and Ilias Bergal.

Trbojevic, 21, has impressed ever since making his debut in the NRL for Manly Sea Eagles in 2015 and has since scored 30 tries in 55 appearances and he will make his international debut on Friday.

Like Trbojevic, Bergal is only 21-years-old and is competing in his first World Cup but had a brilliant game last week against Lebanon and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. He is an exciting winger who has a good eye for the try-line.

ONES TO WATCH

There are plenty of great individuals for Australia but the one to watch on Friday is Billy Slater. The full-back had a blinder last week and all these years later, he is still one of the best players in the world and has lethal footwork which France will have to watch out for.

One to watch for France will be loose forward Jason Baitieri. He has been around the international set up for years now and has made 16 appearances for France. The 28-year-old gets through a lot of work in defence and France will need another big display from him.

THE TEAMS

AUSTRALIA: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Tom Trbojevic, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Josh Dugan, 5. Josh Mansour, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. James Maloney, 8. Jordan McLean, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Regan Campbell-Gillard, 11. Wade Graham, 12. Tyson Frizell, 13. Josh McGuire. Subs: 14. Cameron Munster, 15. Felise Kaufusi, 16. Aaron Woods, 17. David Klemmer. Reserves: 18. Valentine Holmes, 19. Matt Gillett, 20. Boyd Cordner, 21. Dane Gagai.

FRANCE: 1. Mark Kheirallah, 2. Fouad Yaha, 3. Bastien Ader, 4. Olivier Arnoud, 5. Ilias Bergal, 6. Remy Marginet, 7. Theo Fages, 8. Maxime Herold, 9. Eloi Pelissier, 10. Julian Bousquet, 11. Benjamin Garcia, 12. Benjamin Jullien, 13. Jason Baitieri. Subs: 14. Thibault Margalet, 15. Mickael Rouch, 16. Romain Navarrete, 17. John Boudebza. Reserves: 18. Lucas Albert, 19. Antoni Maria, 20. Nabil Djalout, 21. Lambert Belmas.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee – Robert Hicks, Touch Judges – Chris Sutton & Mark Craven, Video Referee – James Child.

THE FAVOURITE

Australia are clear favourites to win the game, despite the Kangaroos making a couple of changes. France will want to put in a strong performance after last week but loverugbyleague.com predict Australia by 30 points. 

You can watch the game, which is hosted at Canberra Stadium, on Premier Sports at 9am on Friday 3 November.

How do you see the game going? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.

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