2017 Rugby League World Cup - Australia vs France Preview

The Lowdown

AUSTRALIA

  • Australia did just enough to beat England in the World Cup opener last weekend but didn't have everything their own way with plenty of improvement to come.
  • Mal Meninga has opted to rotate his squad for this clash with Cooper Cronk the most notable name to be rested. James Maloney takes his place while Tom Trbojevic, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Cameron Munster and Felise Kaufusi will make their debuts.
  • Having averaged 41.4 points per game in their last seven World Cup wins, Australia will be confident of improving that number with a more clinical display against a weak French outfit.

Head Coach: Mal Meninga

Team: Slater; Trbojevic, Chambers, Dugan, Mansour; Morgan, Maloney; McLean, Smith, Campbell-Gillard, Graham, Frizell, McGuire

Bench: Munster, Kaufusi, Woods, Klemmer

FRANCE

  • France fell to a late defeat against Lebanon in their opening World Cup game to leave their hopes of progressing to the next phase hanging by a thread.
  • After a poor showing against the Cedars, AurĂ©lien Cologni has made numerous changes in personnel. Olivier Arnaud, Remy Marginet, Maxime Herold, Mickael Rouch and John Boudebza all come in to make their first appearances of this year's competition.
  • With defeat last week leaving France with a mountain to climb to qualify, they come up against the tournament favourites. France have lost six of their last seven World Cup games, conceding an average of 32.1 points per game.

Head Coach: Aurélien Cologni

Team: Kheirallah; Yaha, Ader, Arnaud, Bergal; Marginet, Fages; Herold, Pelissier, Bousquet, Garcia, Jullien, Baitieri

Bench: Margalet, Rouch, Navarrete, Boudebza

Analysis - what to expect
Australia were far from impressive against England in the World Cup opener last week but still did enough to win and will feel they were never in any real danger of losing the game. They weren't clinical and will look to gel as the tournament progresses but will see this game as a chance to put some points on the board as well as working on their defensive structure. France were toppled by Lebanon with that result leaving their hopes of qualifying for the next round in tatters due to their remaining fixtures. Australia will win this and do so comfortably by a 50+ margin.