France’s Phillippe Saint-Andre targets wins in Australia

France will travel to Australia eyeing a successful three-Test tour ahead of next year’s World Cup, coach Phillippe Saint-Andre said on Tuesday.
France rugby coach Phillippe Saint-Andre says his side will be one of the challengers for the 2015 World Cup title. Michael Bradley / AFP
France rugby coach Phillippe Saint-Andre says his side will be one of the challengers for the 2015 World Cup title. Michael Bradley / AFP

France will travel to Australia eyeing a successful three-Test tour ahead of next year’s World Cup, coach Phillippe Saint-Andre said on Tuesday.

The French finished fourth in this year’s Six Nations with three victories in their five matches, but Saint-Andre was quick to proclaim his team as potential World Cup winners on English soil in 2015, having been runners-up in New Zealand in 2011.

The first step in that mission was a testing tour of Australia.

“Put simply, we have to win the matches,” said Saint-Andre who will announce his travelling squad today. “It’s the last tour before the World Cup so it will be important in that respect, for the team’s spirit. We’re going there with a lot of positivity, desire and hope.”

Saint-Andre said no motivation was needed.

“What better challenge exists? We’re going to one of the most beautiful countries in the world to play three Test matches in a sport that is not only the profession of the players but also their passion. It’s nothing but good,” said the former France captain.

“The Australians have made great progress. They have revamped their team since the 2011 World Cup.

“During the November internationals, they really showed off their capabilities.

“They went and won easily in Wales, Italy and Ireland. It will be a very high level but it is only by playing the best that you improve.”

Saint-Andre acknowledged that some of the players who would be in his best squad would not make the trip to Australia.

“Some will be rested,” he said. “I’ve had chats with some Top 14 coaches and some players really need a rest because they are a bit burnt out. They need to recuperate and, above all, must be able to have a real off-season before the upcoming World Cup year.

“But others have played 30-35 matches and have a massive desire to play for the France team.”

Saint-Andre said he had been buoyed by his team’s performance in the Six Nations, which ended with a 22-20 defeat by eventual champions Ireland.

“I was even more so happy given the huge numbers of ‘leaders’ who were missing or who we lost through injury in the tournament, such as Thierry Dusautoir, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Morgan Parra, Benjamin Kayser and Dimitri Szarzewski.

“The tournament was better than last year even if it wasn’t satisfying. There was a feeling of unfinished business, particularly with the last game.”

Saint-Andre dismissed any thoughts that his fate might mirror that of his predecessor, Marc Lievremont, who knew he would not be continuing as coach after the World Cup in 2011 when his France team defied expectations to reach the final, where they lost 8-7 to hosts New Zealand.

“No, I’ve put myself in World Cup mode,” said Saint-Andre. “I’ve still got 17 or 18 months. I have the enormous privilege of being able to experience a World Cup with the France team in England.

“I have no idea what I’ll be doing in November 2015 and that’s not a problem for me – I can do half a million different jobs.”

First up for Saint-Andre and his charges will be the Wallabies, with the three Tests to run on concurrent Saturdays starting June 7.

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Published: May 6, 2014 04:00 AM

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