10 Oct 2014

The 23-man French squad has completed a three-day training camp in Perpignan in preparation for their tilt at the 2014 European Championship, which commences for them in Dublin on 18 October. The winners will play in the 2016 Four Nations. For captain Jason Baitieri, who missed the world cup last year through an injury sustained agonisingly late in the Super League season, it’s a chance to put back on the blue jersey.

“It’s a great honour to have been named captain,” said the Paris-born son of former Canterbury Bankstown player Tas Baitieri. “I’ve re-joined the team which is led by a capable coaching team and includes motivated young players. I’m confident that we can achieve our goal: and that objective is very clearly to qualify for the 2016 Four Nations. We are eager to go out and win the European Championship.”

France host Wales in Albi in round two before heading to the Scottish Borders for the third and final match. With Wales shorn of some of its senior players, France must be considered the favourites to win the European title for the first time in 2005 and the eighth in total.

“The three days in camp have been really useful,” continued Baitieri. “Richard [Agar, head coach] has quickly put in the foundations, we’re on the same page and have the same objectives. We’ve been alternating between gym-work, on-field training and meetings – all in all it’s been time well used.

“I think we’ve got a really dynamic group. Everyone is really motivated to do well. Seven of the eight clubs in Elite 1 are represented in addition to the Dragons, which is good for French rugby league, and even if we don’t play with one another we all know each other. There are a lot of young players in this group and this competition presents opportunities that it’s up to them to seize.”