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
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
peopleBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books'It's a simple, sweet and charming tale; it’s very heartfelt'
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
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

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game