The Wallabies believe France will continue to be a force to be reckoned with despite Fabien Galle’s move for a third team in the series to Australia.
On Monday, Australian rugby coach Scott Johnson said France was the “most dangerous” country in Europe, but that the Wallabies would face a team that will be missing front row players.
Galthie, the former France captain who played in the 1999 World Cup final against the Wallabies, chose a 42-man squad with only 167 Tests between them.
Between Captain Walabis Michael Hopper and Vice Captain James Slipper, they have 205 Tests.
However, the Wallabies are not talking about France’s chances even though only five of the 23 teams that played at home against Wales in their last home game at the Six Nations Championship will make a downhill trip.
“They’re a good team,” said Woolby’s assistant coach Scott Wisemantle.
Wisemantel knows French rugby like the back of his hand.
Throughout Wisemantel’s two-decade career as a striker coach, working alongside Eddie Jones with England and Japan, as well as Jake White at Montpellier, he spent years coaching in France.
So it’s no surprise that he managed to pull it off player after player while trying to ask himself why this French team can’t be underestimated despite the absences of Antoine Dupont, Fermi Vakatawa, Greg Aldrett and Charles Olivion.
After all, a French third-string team pushed England to work overtime in last year’s autumn Nations Cup final.
However, anyone who thinks the England national team in 2021 or 2020 was breathing like the team that reached the World Cup final in 2019, is deluding themselves, with their volatile media lamenting the exhausting style implemented under Eddie Jones. Springboks in Yokohama tried to push forward in the next direction in rugby, but struggled in the end this year, winning only two of their five matches at the Six Nations Championship.
“In 2019, everyone is taking care of our little ones (Junior Wallabies); we have six in their twenties and they have three.
“The game started. We have young children and they have young children.”
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But the truth is that this team of Wallabies, while also developing under Dave Rennie’s leadership, should easily beat the French, who are knocked out by the longest national campaign in the world, which ends only this weekend.
And after three frustrating draws in 2020, a win is exactly what Wisemantel wants.
In a refreshing, clever response, away from the usual rumble to focus on “the process,” the Wallabies attack coach said success represented victory.
“I think I’ll win, at first,” he said.
“I think Australian rugby has to win.
“As a coach, we have no illusions, there is pressure. There is always pressure when the test is for a rugby match.”
“But aside from winning, we actually want the players to be selected, and we like to expand our base, so if there are rookies, junior players, we have to prepare them for the rugby test, then there is more competition in the next couple of years.”
Australian rugby has been bleeding for years and fans and sponsors can only pay attention to it by appearing on the scoreboard.
This is exactly why the RA board has been split over the best Super Rugby chassis going forward as the Trans-Tasman crossover competition saw momentum gaining ground earlier in the season with Australia winning just two of 25 games against New Zealand.
The only thing France has is depth and this tour, as they did with England in 2017 when they visited Argentina without a 15th majority for the first time due to Lions duty, will only help them in the long run.
“I think they’re building their squad now,” said Wallabies Setaliki Timani, who is making his international debut in more than 2,000 days after returning from France to Australia after seven years in the top 14.
“Lots of youngsters who haven’t played much and who are now in the team. They are looking to the future.”
Few international players, especially when the Wallabies play, are anything other than the highly contested matches and France will be playing physically with René’s side.
For the first time in years, you could toss a coin back in time for the Wallabies.
Only captain Michael Hooper, No. 8 Harry Wilson, linebacker Tom Banks, winger Marika Corupetti and playmaker James O’Connor will start playing.
In particular, joining Hunter Bisame in midfield is intriguing, as Matt Toumoa faces stiff competition from outside midfielder Lin Iketaw, whom Wisemantel is interested in.
“Lenny Iketao, he was hitting you in the phone booth,” Wisemantel said.
“He’s dynamic, he’s great, so he’s a really good player with Hunter in the positions.”
Wisemantel said the coaches, one of them, used a gold, silver and bronze player scoring system on each training day to help decide who would eventually get a jersey.
“We are already seeing competition,” he said.
“It’s just the coaches at the end of the day talking to each other. While we have a chart for what we think is around 23, nothing is consistent at this point.
“The competition is fierce.
Timani, who is competing for the lock-up position at the start alongside Logan Salakaya-Lotto and Matt Philip, said this was the toughest training for him of his career.
“In my career, I’ve never trained like this from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.,” he said.
“It’s a good learning experience for me as well, there are a lot of things we have to go through as a team and understand what we have to accomplish in the game, especially against the French.”
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