Elima eyes French improvement

Skipper determined to avoid rout at hands of English

Last Updated: 11/06/10 2:45pm

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Elima: Keen to avoid rout

Elima: Keen to avoid rout

Sky Bet

France captain Olivier Elima insists his side will be looking to do much better against England on Saturday.

Bobbie Goulding's side slumped to an embarrassing 66-12 rout at the hands of the English in Paris last year.

It is 29 years since the French last tasted success against their hosts but Elima, who missed the 12-try hammering in Paris, is demanding improvement.

He said: "Last year in Paris was pretty bad and we're definitely not looking at letting the score get anything close to that."

The former Wakefield and Castleford second row forward is one of 13 Catalans Dragons players in Goulding's 17-man squad.

But the French are once again badly hit by injury, with Catalans captain Thomas Bosc one of seven Dragons players forced to withdraw, and Elima admits it adds to the enormity of their task.

Compete

"We're definitely looking to compete with England," he said. "We'll be trying to get on top but it's going to be hard. We come with adversity.

"In Paris it was pretty much the same story, with a lot of Dragons players and other leaders in the French team missing out, including me.

"This year we thought it was going to be better until we played Hull KR and we lost Thomas Bosc and Dimitri Pelo."

Little-known scrum half Nicolas Munoz, who plays for French champions Lezignan, will make his debut alongside another rookie Tony Gigot.

Another half-back William Barthau, who made his Test debut in Paris 12 months ago, has also been flown over at short notice to take his place on the bench.

"William Barthau is a very exciting player but maybe a bit young still," admitted Elima. "Once you get thrown in, it's always a good experience.

"It's a great opportunity for Tony Gigot to play at six in the French team."

While Elima admits he has scant knowledge of the squad's domestic players, he says he is excited at the chance to learn about them.

Can't wait

"Munoz is not that young but he's not played Super League," he added. "I can't wait to see him on the international stage.

"It's always exciting when you don't know how players will react. Sometimes you get good surprises."

Elima can only look on in envy as England include three players from Australia's National Rugby League in the strongest side available to new coach Steve McNamara.

But regardless of the outcome, the France skipper insists the fixture must be retained.

"England have a great squad and they have brought their Australian-based players over," he said.

"Everyone will be wanting to impress to get into the Four Nations at the end of the year.

"It will be tough for us but the only way we can progress is by playing this kind of team."

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