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France v Australia - teams and prediction

PREVIEW: The Wallabies’ second row has a distinctly French flavour as skipper Will Skelton and Richie Arnold line up against many of their club teammates in Paris in their World Cup warm-up.

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The Australian side will fine-tune their preparations for the tournament in a clash with hosts France on Sunday.

Coach Eddie Jones has called on Skelton – who plays for La Rochelle and also Arnold, who turns out for Toulouse – giving the Wallabies a France-based, French-speaking lock combination for the first time against Les Bleus.

Jones also pulled a shock move by naming Skelton as his World Cup skipper but assistant coach Dan Palmer said the giant forward as well as Arnold were proven winners.

Skelton has won two European Champions Cup titles with La Rochelle while Arnold has claimed the Top 14 title three times with his club.

“Will’s a genuine leader in this group and it’s good for us to have guys like him and Richie in and around the squad,” Palmer told reporters.

“They’re not only playing over here and adding to their game, they’re playing in winning teams and they’re used to winning and bringing their culture to the group.”

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Of France’s 33-man squad, 17 players come from either the Toulouse or La Rochelle clubs including skipper, Toulouse scrumhalf Antoine Dupont.

Arnold said he was excited to take on France at Stade de France, which is the venue for Australia’s opening pool game against Georgia on September 10.

“I play a lot of these guys and a lot are my friends and I’m looking forward to playing in front of Stade de France in front of 80,000 people, it’s going to be massive,” said the 33-year-old, who is the identical twin brother of former Test lock Rory Arnold.

Rory was tipped to add to his 32 Test caps as part of the World Cup squad but opted to remain in Japan rather than make himself available for selection this year.

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Richie said he regularly sought advice from his brother, who was part of the Wallabies 2019 World Cup campaign in Japan which ended at the quarter-final stage.

“I speak a lot, a couple of times a week and I pick his brain as he has been here before at the last World Cup and has got a lot of experience,” Richie said.

He said a win over one of the tournament favourites would do wonders for the Wallabies, who are yet to bank a victory in four matches under Jones.

“It’s massive – every time you put on the gold jersey you’re representing your country so that’s super important, you’ve got a job to do there,” he said.

“And just building momentum, we started to do through the Rugby Championship and build our game so it’s important to keep doing that this weekend and get some momentum leading into that Georgian game.”

Players to watch: 

For France: All eyes will be on flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert. The 24-year-old stands in for the injured Romain Ntamack, who will miss the tournament with a serious knee injury. The 25-time international has great potential and could wear the No.10 shirt against three-time winners New Zealand in the World Cup opener on September 8. Jalibert will partner with Antoine Dupont. The French captain has been described as the maestro of the Les Blues and he will undoubtedly direct the game from behind the scrum. In the pack, Paul Willemse will have to keep Will Skelton and Richie Arnold intact.

For Australia: The Wallabies are in dire need of good performance. The halves pairing of Tate McDermott and Carter Gordon will combine for the third straight Test, looking to build on their promising partnership ahead of the World Cup. The young Lalakai Foketi will play his first international since he scored a World Rugby Try of the Year contender at the same venue last year. The centre will be out to put in a solid show. Wing Mark Nawaqanitawase has proven to be a tough customer out wide with a great step to match his speed. The 22-year-old Angus Bell will be looking to continue his strong form since returning from a serious foot injury, joining the consistent David Porecki and Taniela Tupou in the starting front row.

France v Australia - teams and prediction

France v Australia - teams and prediction

France v Australia - teams and prediction

Predictions: 

@rugby365com: France by five points

Teams: 

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Gabin Villiere, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Jean-Baptiste Gros.
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Cameron Woki, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Baptiste Couilloud, 23 Melvyn Jaminet.

Australia: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Suliasi Vunivalu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Langi Gleeson, 22 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 23 Ben Donaldson

Date: Sunday, August 27
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 17.45 (15.45 GMT; 1.45 Australia time, Monday August 28)
Expected weather: Partly sunny with a high of 21°C and a low of 12°C
Referee: Luke Pearce (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley (Ireland) & Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Tom Foley (Ireland)

Source: AAP

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