Frayssinous plans to drive France back towards the international summit

France feature in a strong looking Group A

12 Oct 2022

Frayssinous plans to drive France back towards the international summit

France feature in a strong looking Group A

By Paul Eddison 

There was a time when France was one of the strongest rugby league nations on the planet but three years out from a World Cup on home soil, coach Laurent Frayssinous is conscious that a return to the top will take a while.

Where in 2017, there were reasonable expectations of making the quarter-finals, dashed by a late collapse against Lebanon, this time around, the race for the last eight would appear beyond them. 

With hosts England and everyone’s pick for the surprise contender, Samoa, in the same group, France would need to cause an almighty upset to go through. 

In fact, the bigger priority will be simply to win a game, with opening opponents Greece able to call on some NRL talent. 

Win that, and Frayssinous and his director of rugby Trent Robinson will have something on which to build, particularly with key men Theo Fages, Julien Bousquet and Romain Navarrete all ruled out late on.

It is for that reason that Frayssinous is keen to dampen expectations, without explicitly saying the focus is on peaking on home soil in 2025. 

He said: “Obviously it’s always been the case in France that every game, every World Cup, every tournament, always had that pressure.  

“What we want now is to make sure we build step by step, it’s about keeping on building and knowing exactly what is our strength and where we want to go.  

“We need to stop having that type of pressure on us and the players. But being realistic about where we are and just making sure that we’re improving and working altogether.

French captain Benjamin Garcia speaking at the tournament launch. Getty Images.

“The summary of this project is Trent Robinson who is coming for this World Cup but he said: ‘I’m not coming for one job I’m coming for the future to have a four-year plan’.  

“We want to keep on building and again, we haven’t been able to beat one of the best teams for 32 years. Last time we beat Great Britain was in 1990, so we want to create and make history at one point, hopefully during the World Cup, maybe next year, maybe the next World Cup, but that’s our target.” 

A 48-12 warm-up defeat to Tonga was a reminder of where France’s currently sit in the hierarchy, even if Catalans Dragons’ run to the Super League Grand Final last year, combined with Toulouse’s season in Super League, would indicate an uptick in fortunes.

Frayssinous admits though, that the fact that Toulouse were not able to beat the drop in their first season is a blow. 

He added: “It is a concern because you want your players to play at the highest level and Super League is the highest level in Europe, but also at the same time you’ve got Justin Sangare sign for Leeds, and I’m sure pretty soon there will also be some players who will stay in Super League and hopefully Toulouse will be back very soon in Super League, that’s what we want.” 

The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets

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