Catalan Dragons aim to add spirit to French flair

 

Rugby League Correspondent

This weekend’s quarter-finals are a testing time for the World Cup, not so much for the nations which are expected to go through as for the tournament as a whole.

The danger of international competition in the code is that it can produce massive mismatches. That has not been the story so far, with a combination of an ingenious draw and heroic performances from the “lesser” countries producing compelling contests and some genuine shocks.

It all gets serious today when, after New Zealand’s game against Scotland last night, England and Australia look to reach the final four.

Standing in England’s way are France, who proved so inadequate a challenge that annual internationals were abandoned after a 60-point thrashing in 2010.

That snub could be a motivating factor for the French at the DW Stadium in Wigan tonight. The real question, however, is whether the Super League experience in their squad will ever make them competitive at this level.

The theory about the Catalan Dragons’ entry into Super League has always been that it would lift the standard of the national side. So far, that has not happened. The latest to try to make the connection is the Wakefield coach, Richard Agar, and he has not found it an easy task so far.

France would probably not even be in the quarter-finals if Papua New Guinea’s David Mead had not missed an easy shot at goal in the last minute of their first group match.

But crowds flocked to the games at Avignon and Perpignan and France showed a real willingness to battle to the end in Monday’s match against Samoa. If they can reproduce the same spirit at the DW this evening, they could at least make it interesting.

Agar has brought in another promising young Catalan, Damien Cardace, for possible inclusion on the wing, while Sam Tomkins, playing his last game in Wigan before decamping to the NRL, picks out his opposite number, Morgan Escare, as a threat.But there is no place for the recent Hull KR signing, Kevin Larroyer.

The search of the England coach, Steve McNamara, for his best side takes a step forward with the return of Josh Charnley on the right wing in place of his rival Tom Briscoe, and of James Roby at hooker.

Michael McIlorum had his chance in that role against Fiji last week but did not seem to do enough to put him ahead of Roby in the pecking order.

In the earlier game at Wrexham, it is hard to imagine Australia having too much trouble with the shock side of the tournament, the United States.

Australia have left out the experienced centre Brent Tate, with Jarryd Hayne likely to replace him. The latest unexpected twist from the US is that second-rower Mark Cantoni, who broke an arm in the warm-up game against France last month, recovered fast enough to be considered.

The best game of the weekend could well be tomorrow’s at Warrington, where Fiji face Samoa for the remaining place in the semi-finals; it is certainly the hardest to predict.

Samoa were in brutal mood in the tackle in their last game against France, which left them with a legacy of disciplinary issues before this one.

They have a man named Sue – Sauaso Sue, to be precise – available after his one-match ban for tripping was overturned on appeal this week.

However, they will be without another forward, Leeson Ah Mau, whose appeal against his one-game suspension for a shoulder-charge has failed,

Should Fiji fail to win, that will be the end of the career of one of the great forwards. Petero Civoniceva played in the Australia front-row for almost a decade and came out of international retirement at 37 to captain the land of his birth in this World Cup.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam