Rugby League World Cup preview: France v Samoa
Last Updated: 11/11/13 7:05pm
France captain Olivier Elima is hoping to make home advantage count when his side meet Samoa in the final pool match of the World Cup in Perpignan on Monday night.
Every member of coach Richard Agar's 19-man squad is either a past or present Catalan Dragons player and, therefore, is familiar with the Stade Gilbert Brutus, which will be packed to the rafters for the last Group B match.
Both teams are guaranteed places in the knockout stages but the losers in Perpignan will be faced with a quarter-final against England in Wigan, with the winners handed the easier tie against Fiji in Warrington.
The French effectively clinched their last-eight spot with an opening 9-8 win over Papua New Guinea but Elima says they still have a point to prove and sees no better place to do it.
"People wrote us off from the start of the tournament," Elima said. "We have very much come in as underdogs. "It is great to get fixtures here in France and we have had big turn-outs at the games, I am sure it will be the same on Monday.
"We have been training really well this week in Perpignan. It is good for everyone to be back at home. It is going to be fantastic to play such a big game in front of a home crowd.
"The first game against Papua New Guinea we won but we didn't feel we played too well and then we lost to New Zealand. We feel like we need to go out there and show people what we can do."
Elima is acutely aware of the threat of Samoa, who have been improving with each game since being hammered 52-16 by England Knights in a warm-up fixture.
They staged a second-half rally to rattle the Kiwis and secured their quarter-final berth with a resounding 38-4 win over PNG last Monday.
"We have watched both of Samoa's games and they are a very strong side," Elima added. "They are the kind of players who like to throw the ball about and you cannot rule them out until you have them on the floor tackled."
Samoa winger Antonio Winterstein, who has scored four tries in two matches so far, wants his team to show what they are capable of over longer periods of play.
"Our first half against the Kiwis was poor and our first half against PNG was awesome so, if we can string 80 minutes of good, hard footy together, I don't see a team that can stick with us," said the North Queensland Cowboys player.
Samoa have included St Helens forward Tony Puletua in their 19-man squad after receiving permission to draft him in as a replacement for injured duo Frank Winterstein and Harrison Hansen, and he is set to win his eighth cap.
France have recalled William Barthau in place of Salford scrum-half Theo Fages.