Wales and France kick off the Autumn International Triangular Series in Lens
Last Updated: 19/10/12 2:11pm
Iestyn Harris: has named Craig Kopczak as Wales' new captain
Wales coach Iestyn Harris believes Saturday's clash with France will give him the opportunity to measure the progress of his side ahead of next year's World Cup.
The Welsh failed to even make it to the last tournament in Australia four years ago but automatically qualify for the 2013 event as co-hosts.
Before then they are involved in the Autumn International Triangular Series, starting with a game against France in Lens on Saturday.
"We are in a position now where we think we can compete against those teams."
"France are probably a little bit more advanced than us in their development," Harris said.
"They've been in Super League six or seven years now and you are starting to see youngsters come through who have got that experience.
"What we're trying to do is get to a position where we're a competitive nation in any game that we play, whether it's against England, Australia, New Zealand, France or Papua New Guinea, anybody who is in front of us in the world rankings.
"We're in a position now where we think we can compete against those teams."
Harris will put his squad through a training run at the 40,000-capacity Stade Felix-Bollaert on Friday before naming his line-up.
"The players are certainly excited about it," he added. "There's a difference between nervousness and excitement and you can feel the excitement in the group, which is really pleasing."
Teenage second rower Rhys Pugsley, who switched codes last year to join Wigan from Newport Gwent Dragons, could be handed his international debut on what is already certain to be a special day for him.
Pugsley said: "I hope to get a spot as it is my 18th birthday on Saturday as well, so it would be a great present to make my debut.
"I played for Wales rugby union last year but I didn't enjoy the game half as much as league so I thought I'd give it a shot and see where it took me," he said.
"It was a big step because all my family have come from rugby union and I always dreamed of playing union but I wasn't happy and I just chanced my arm and thought I'd try playing a bit of league. I'm just glad I did now."
Harris has confirmed Craig Kopczak, who qualifies for Wales through his grandparents, as his new captain. He takes over from Lee Briers, who retired from international rugby at the end of the 2011 Four Nations.