Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s live coverage of the final warm-up match ahead of next month’s World Cup, as hosts and favorites France entertain Australia in Paris.
Eddie Jones, under whom the Wallabies are currently winless, couldn’t pull off Mission Impossible at the Stade de France on the eve of the World Cup, could he? Certainly, the Australian head coach gives it a good boost, naming a strong squad for the clash before his side kick off their World Cup in the same stadium against Georgia in 13 days. There is no room for star Samu Kerevi today due to injury, although cool-headed Taniela Tupou returns.
Fabien Galthié, the enigmatic coach of France, followed suit. With the exception of Cyril Baille, injured, and Anthony Jelonch, recovering, France is complete. Of course, there will be no Romain Ntamack at the opening. Alongside captain Antoine Dupont, Ntamack was set to become the poster child for this year’s World Cup but an anterior cruciate ligament injury ruled him out of the entire tournament. Matthieu Jalibert will have to replace Ntamack as French playmaker.
What are the implications for today’s game? Australia, in many ways, has nothing to lose, which makes it a dangerous proposition. No one expects them to win and a loss really doesn’t make a difference to their preparation considering they are yet to claim a win this year. It was just a late try by Damian Penaud, albeit under former coach Dave Rennie, that broke their hearts in Paris in November 2022.
But for France, less than a fortnight before the opening match against New Zealand, a defeat would be very detrimental. The Blues are the hosts and favorites for the bookmakers, but the unknown has always been how they would handle the pressure of these two elements. A loss this afternoon would not suggest very well.
Wallabies head coach Jones said: “We had an impressive preparation for the Rugby World Cup this week.
“Improving our physical ability has been a priority and our rugby fitness is improving rapidly and we will look to use that against France.
“Playing against the tournament hosts in front of a massive crowd at the final venue is perfect preparation for us.
“We are a young team, ambitious and developing our game.”
All the news of the team then!