French rugby league hurting, says Monie - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

French rugby league hurting, says Monie

By Liam FitzGibbon 14/10/2008 03:10:10 PM Comments (0)

France coach John Monie has played down his side's "dark horse" status for the Rugby League World Cup, admitting cashed-up French rugby union's pillaging had taken its toll on his talent pool.

The French arrived in Australia on Monday amid suggestions they could be a surprise packet at the tournament after steady improvement in three years under their Australian coach.

But Monie said he simply wanted France to be competitive, acknowledging they don't have the depth to seriously challenge the likes of Australia, England and New Zealand.

"We want to be competitive in our games, we want to play with a fair bit of courage," Monie said from the Sunshine Coast, where the French will train this week before moving to Canberra ahead of their opening match against Scotland on October 26.

"But half our team play for (French-based side) Catalans in the Super League, the other half play in the local (French) competition.

"We've got one group of guys that are used to playing at Super League level and another group of guys that are sort of way underneath them, so that's going to be the problem.

"We'll have a dig though."

With French rugby union luring the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, Mark Gasnier and Luke Rooney away from the NRL, Monie said there had been a similarly worrying trend in French rugby league.

"It's taken away most of the better backs out of the guys who play in the domestic league," said Monie, a former Auckland Warriors and Parramatta coach.

"They don't get the chance to come through in rugby league ... we just lost one of the juniors that we had pencilled in the (national) squad for next year and he's gone to play rugby union in Narbonne.

"They're always sort of looking at the rugby league players ... if the rugby union want them they tend to be able to take them."

Monie said it was crucial for a second French team to be included in the Super League alongside Catalans in the future in order to promote competition for places in the national side.

Toulouse is set to join the Super League's second-tier competition next season with Monie hoping they will be promoted to the top flight within the next three years.

"That's really what we need to give them (French players) a bit more of a pathway in rugby league," Monie said.

"If rugby league is going to kick on in France, that's the next step we're looking for."

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