France are the most dangerous team in Europe, with almost as much depth in their squad as the All Blacks, Australia’s rugby director warned on Monday ahead of their series of tests next month.
Dave Rennie’s Wallabies face the exhausted Blues in Sydney on July 7 before moving to Melbourne and Brisbane on July 13 and 17.
Given the need for a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Australia, an already injured France has left out players from Toulouse and La Rochelle, who will play in the Top 14 final next weekend.
Instead, the focus in the 42-man squad named Sunday is on youth with Damian Penaud, Teddy Thomas and Romain Taofifenua the only players with over 20 caps.
In contrast, the Wallabies have plenty of experience, led by Michael Hooper (105 Tests) and James Slipper (100), while a host of others have played over 50 times.
But Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson said France still have a strong squad and the absence of stars like Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack would not worry coach Fabien Galthie.
“The French have so much depth. They have the most depth – outside of New Zealand – in world rugby, ”he told the Sydney Morning Herald, noting that France had won the last two U-20 world titles.
“They’ve always been talented, but now they have a bunch of really gifted kids.
“They went through this system of less than 20 years. They’ve won two (World Cups) on the rebound and the rule of thumb is if you have two good U20 teams on the rebound, you’ll have a good test team in a few years time.
“They have a group of young and talented players who play instinctively and the style that people would perceive as traditionally French. It is the most dangerous team in Europe. Without a doubt. “
The French team benefits from a strong representation of the teams that won these world titles in 2018 and 2019, including the second rower of the Stade Français Pierre-Henri Azagoh, his counterpart from Racing 92, Ibrahim Diallo and Florent Vanverberghe de Castres.
In total, Galthie has 23 uncapped players including Perpignan back Melvyn Jaminet, who has never played above Pro D2, and Pau scrum half Clovis Le Bail.
The Wallabies won the last meeting between the two teams in November 2016, but they have not played a test since the consecutive draws against Argentina at the end of last year, which capped an erratic season with a only victory out of six.
France have already played five times this year and have won three.
© 2021 AFP