2 days ago
Australia v France preview
Walk in the park or a boilover in the capital looming?
On paper this game is more or less a foregone conclusion - world number one Australia coming off a win over a tenacious England side facing up against a French outfit who pushed Lebanon all the way before conceding late points and sinking to an opening weekend loss.
While I'm not game to give up on a fairly comfortable win for the Kangaroos, there's always a chance for the underdog. Both sides have made some key changes - some forced, some optional. While the 'Roos are set to blood a couple more debutants, France have opted to bring in Olivier Arnaud in the centres for Damien Cardace, Remy Marginet coming into the halves for William Barthau and Maxime Herold coming into the front row.
Australia's key changes see James Maloney, Jordan McLean, Tom Trbojevic, Josh Mansour and Reagan Campbell-Gillard all joining the starting side.
Last meeting: 2009 Four Nations - Australia 42 France 4 (Paris)
With the rotating nature of the fourth seed in the Four Nations tournament and no meeting in the 2013 World Cup, these sides meet for the first time in eight years on Friday, the 'Roos having been successful on 14 straight occasions, the last successful French outing being a pair of victories in the 1978 post-season.
Overall these sides have met 59 times since 1938 with Australia winning 43 to France's 14, and two tests drawn.
Who to watch: Some of coach Mal Meninga's selections will no doubt pay off but what will be interesting is how he uses bench rotation half Cameron Munster. Being now used to a full 80 minute showing, the timing of his injection will be critical if (against all odds) the game is still up in the air during the second half.
Apart from Herold, the bulk of the French forward pack remains intact from last week. Benjamin Jullien has one of the second row positions locked down and after a couple of seasons plying his trade in an impressive Warrington side in the Super League. His impressive workrate saw him top the tackle count last week - but he could probably stand to use his running game a bit more if France are to have any chance of a mammoth upset.
The favourite: Put it this way, if you put money on France and they win - you're gonna be quite rich.
My tip: As suggested earlier there's no way Australia don't win this, and win it well. Australia by 28.
1. Billy Slater 2. Tom Trbojevic 3. Will Chambers 4. Josh Dugan 5. Josh Mansour 6. Michael Morgan 14. Cameron Munster 8. Jordan McLean 9. Cameron Smith 10. Regan Campbell-Gillard 11. Wade Graham 12. Tyson Frizell 13. Josh Mcguire 15. Felise Kaufusi 16. Aaron Woods 17. David Klemmer 18. Valentine Holmes
1. Mark Kheirallah 2. Fouad Yaha 3. Bastien Ader 4. Olivier Arnoud 5. Ilias Bergal 6. Remy Marginet 7. Theo Fages 13. Jason Baitieri 17. John Boudebza 10. Julian Bousquet 11. Benjamin Garcia 12. Benjamin Jullien 15. Mickael Rouch 8. Maxime Herold 9. Eloi Pelissier 14. Thibault Margalet 16. Romain Navarrete
Referees: Robert Hicks; Sideline Officials: Chris Sutton, Mark Craven; Video Referees: James Child;