Yesterday France coach Philippe Saint-André announced that he is looking at 10 foreign players who could potentially turn out for France this year. With that in mind we take a look at how a French XV including those players could look at next years World Cup;
15. Scott Spedding
The South African-born full-back was one of very few players at Brive to come out of last season with any real credit. With this in mind Saint-André has earmarked him as a potential option for France, especially given his back three players inconsistencies in recent years.
14. David Smith
The Samoan born Toulon winger was touted as a potential All Black at one stage but now looks like he could be turning out for France in the not too distant future. A powerful runner who knows his way to the try line, there’s no doubt he would add plenty to the French side.
13. Gael Fickou
The first French born player in this side, Fickou’s rise to prominence over the last couple of years has been phenomenal. One of the most gifted backs in the northern hemisphere he edges out Wesley Fofana due to being a more natural outside centre.
12. Blair Connor
The Aussie utility back has been a key man for Bordeaux in recent seasons and his ability to play both wing and centre could be seen as a big bonus, especially in a World Cup squad limited in numbers. His experience at age grade for Australia would no doubt be a bonus as well.
11. Noa Nakitaci
The Fijian born winger has already earned one cap for the French against the All Blacks and could be set for more in the near future. Overshadowed for years at Clermont by Sitiveni Sivivatu, he has now been given the chance to become their star man and force his way into the French World Cup squad.
10. Brock James
Given France’s difficulties in finding an established fly-half it’s no surprise that they are looking to Clermont’s Aussie 10 Brock James. There’s no doubting James has all the attributes to be a top quality international 10, the only doubts would be over his ability to deal with the pressures of important games at a World Cup.
9. Rory Kockott
Kockott has been one of the very best players in the Top 14 in recent years and has been criminally overlooked by the Springboks. It therefore seems almost inevitable that Saint-André will be calling him up sooner rather than later given what he can offer to the French national side.
1. Thomas Domingo
The established loosehead looks the most likely starting option for France at the World Cup given his prominence in the side in recent seasons. He offers an experienced presence in the front row and seems the most likely option for Saint-André.
2. Guilhem Guirado
The position of hooker is a difficult one for France with not too much depth in the position, it actually seems a surprise Saint-André isn’t looking at options here. With that in mind it looks like Guirado will continue to hold down his place in the starting line-up.
3. Uini Atonio
Born in New Zealand with Samoan heritage, the 24 year old tighthead prop is an absolute monster. Weighing in at 24st6lb and standing at 6’6″ tall he sounds more like a lock than a prop, but there’s no doubting he could add some serious ballast to the French scrum.
4. Francois van der Merwe
What pack in the world wouldn’t fancy adding some Springbok power into the mix? With van der Merwe Saint-André obviously has this in mind as he looks to add some fight into a disappointing French pack in time for the World Cup.
5. Yoann Maestri
Saint-André has a number of options he could pick at lock at the moment but the most likely at the moment is probably Maestri. The Toulouse lock has already picked up 25 caps for France and looks set to add to them over the next 12 months.
6. Thierry Dusautoir
Dusautoir may have missed most of last season with injury but there’s not a chance that Saint-André will be leaving out his captain in a World Cup year. When fit Dusautoir is one of the very best back row players in the world can capable of competing with the best of them.
7. Steffon Armitage
The Toulon back-rower has been the posted boy for this French ‘revolution’ as the debate rages as to whether he should be able to play for France having already represented England. The European player of the year, there’s no questioning why Saint-André wants him in his squad.
8. Alex Tulou
The powerful Montpellier number 8 could help to provide the French with some much needed go forward in the pack. The Samoan born back-rower already has a singular cap for the All Blacks to his name but under the new qualification regulations could be set to turn out for the French.
Do you think it’s right that France could turn out a side like this at next year’s World Cup?