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Its been five years since the French last visited Dublin, the city where just two points separated the Chanticleers from the Irish national team, now in 2003, the Wolfhounds want revenge, and with a place in the European Nations Cup final on the line, it should be a thrilling encounter at Dalymount Park on Saturday November 1st at 5:00pm.
If Irish win the clash they will instantly qualify for the final of the European Nations Cup at Wilderspool Warrington to take on either England A or Wales. If the Irish lose, they will need to hope that the Scots can knock off the Chanticleers and for and against works in their favor.
The French, who are naturally favourites based upon their history of Rugby League comparative to the Irish, as well as their player depth have named a side with some surprising omissions.
Dimitri Pelo and Daniel Dumas have both returned to Australia for training with Cronulla, whilst fellow professionals, Sylvain Houles and Oliver Elima have been let go as well for the tournament. Jerome Gusset is still there and will be leading the French from the front with the style of play that troubled the Australians so much last week, and made him one of the best forwards in Rugby Super League for 2004.
Usual captain, Pascal Jampy has not been named either, despite leading France for their clashes earlier this year, including their Mediterranean Cup campaign.
The Chanticleers however still have a strong side. Frederic Banquet moves back to the position he became so well known in at fullback, and Cedric Gay moves back into the hooker position. Julien Rinaldi, the very talented French halfback will be pairing up with Laurent Frayssinous in what should be a very aggressive style of play.
Ireland however are well matched for the task and whilst not confirming their squad yet, are believed to be putting on a very similar side to that which took the field against Scotland. The Irish National side have only played in Dublin three times in the past, and will be looking at turning the city into a deathbed for visiting nations.
The Irish side will need to rely on the experience that players like Phil Cantillon and Francis Cummins bring to the side, with many of the younger players looking a bit overawed in the game against Scotland initially, before gaining composure towards the end of the match to snatch victory.
Ireland certainly has the speed to match the French, and whilst they may not have the creativity, with a number of professional players in their side, they will have the stamina to last the full 80 minutes.
French Squad: Fr?d?ric Banquet (Carcassonne), Michael Van Snick (Villeneuve), Claude Sirvent (St Gaudens), Teddy Saddaoui (Carcassonne), Fourcade Abasse (St Gaudens), Laurent Frayssinous (UTC), Olivier Pramil (Toulouse), Cedric Gay (Toulouse), Jerome Guisset (Warrington), Laurent Jampy (UTC), Artie Shead (Toulouse), Laurent Carrasco (Villeneuve); Subs: Rachid Hechiche (Lyon), John Waigafa (Limoux), Julien Gerin (Toulouse), Raguin (Toulouse)
Ireland Squad: TBC
Venue:Dalymount Park, Dublin DateSaturday, 1 November, 2003 (5pm)