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Nine newcomers in French squad

France will mount its assault on the Alitalia European Cup with one of the least experienced sides in their recent rugby league history, seven of the 30-man squad being aged twenty or younger.
Nine newcomers in French squad
by NRL

France will mount its assault on the Alitalia European Cup with one of the least experienced sides in their recent rugby league history, seven of the 30-man squad being aged twenty or younger. Head coach Bobbie Goulding has chosen nine new caps for the competition - which also features Scotland, Ireland and Wales - and will see the winners go forward to the 2011 Four Nations tournament.

The newcomers include Catalans Dragons latest capture Jason Baitieri along with one of the club's most highly rated juniors, Eloi Pelissier. The others are: Thibaut Ancely, Julian Bousquet, Kevin Larroyer, Anthony Maria, Quentin Nauroy, Clement Soubeyras and Mickael Tribillac.

Goulding has been shorn of four players who played against England in June, all of them injured Catalans Dragons, Cyrille Gossard, Sebastien Raguin, David Ferriol and Gregory Mounis along with club mate and regular half back Thomas Bosc.

But Goulding insists the youngsters' inclusion is on merit. "No matter what the circumstances were, I was going to play them," he said. "Some of these kids are outstanding. Eloi Pelissier played for the "Roosters" [the French Federation's Under-20s side that competed against Super League Academies this summer] and was outstanding at hooker. He caught the eye of many a Super League scout and he'll go far."

Studded among the precocious youth are a clutch of experienced incumbents such as skipper Olivier Elima, Remi Casty, Jamal Fakir, Jean-Philippe Baile and enigmatic Pia scrum half Maxime Greseque, who Goulding describes as, "an integral part of everything we do."

The squad assembles for the first time on Sunday in Albi where they will prepare for their first match against Ireland on 9th October with a week-long training camp. That will provide Goulding and his staff - including recently appointed assistant Warren Jowitt - with the opportunity to hone the positivity already coursing through his charges.

"The enthusiasm, spirit and desire to play for France is there," Goulding continued. "These lads are totally committed and we know we're playing for a place in the elite level next year."

With the national side at home on three consecutive weekends in the treiziste heartlands, Goulding has welcomed being favourites to become European champions: "At the end of the day if you're not under pressure playing international rugby then there's something wrong. We'll be ready and we'll be up for it, don't worry about that."

France has been forced to change the stadium for their match against Scotland due to poor state of the Ernest Wallon pitch, it will be now be played in Albi. Also, please note the slightly earlier kick off times:

- France v Irlande a 15 h 15 (Parc des sports en AVIGNON)
- France v Ecosse a 15 H 15 (Stadium d'ALBI)
- France v Pays de Galles a 15 H 30 (Stadium d'ALBI)

FRANCE SQAUD
Teddy Sadaoui (Carcassonne); Clement Soubeyras (Carpentras); Jean-Phillipe Baile, Jason Baitieri, Remi Casty, Jamal Fakir, (Catalans Dragons); Olivier Elima (Bradford Bulls); Thibau Ancely, Andrew Bentley, Julian Bousquet, Nicolas Munoz, Florian Quintilla, Mickael Tribillac (Lezignan); Maxime Greseque, Christophe Moly (Pia); Vincent Duport, Mathieu Griffi, Kevin Larroyer, Anthony Maria, Yoan Tisseyre (Toulouse); William Barthau, Kane Bentley, Tony Gigot, Sebastien Martins, Quentin Nauroy, Eloi Pelissier, Michael Simon, Cyril Stacul, Julien Touxagas, Frederic Vaccari, (UTC/Catalans)




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