Rugby League: Battle-weary French maintain hectic schedule

By Peter Jessup

By PETER JESSUP

The French will barely have time to wash off the Huntly mud after their encounter with a Northern Districts selection today before flying off to continue their tour in Papua New Guinea.

They play at 2.30 pm, go to a reception hosted by the Maori Queen at Turangawaewae marae that is expected to continue late, then travel by bus to Auckland to pack for a 5 am flight to Brisbane.

They fly on to play tests against the Kumuls in Port Moresby and Goroka, which as any old Kiwi will tell you is no fun.

The Tricolors coach, Gilles Dumas, yesterday named 12 of the side who lost Sunday's test 0-36 to the Kiwis to play in Huntly.

And 11 of those are backing up from their previous game against Central Districts last Wednesday.

Rested are the fullback with the amazing boot, Frederic Banquet, centre Gilles Cornut, halves Laurent Frayssinous and Fabien Devecchi, and second rower Jerome Vincent.

Four test backs and eight forwards play again after a recovery session at the Mt Albert Aquatic Centre on Monday and a light run at the Avondale racecourse fields yesterday.

Northern Districts have lost Waikato halfback Harley Randall, who turned an ankle at training, and Bay of Plenty prop Keith Newton (leg injury).

Late replacements hauled in by selectors Damon Rudolph (Northland), Cameron Bell (Auckland), Len Reid (Bay of Plenty) and coach Billy Kells (Waikato) were Waikato back Darren Laing and prop Jody Brewer.

Northern have been in camp at the old Air Force-turned-Tainui base at Hopu Hopu since Monday and ran a smart training yesterday.

Manager Kevin Fisher was pleased with the attitude and atmosphere in the camp.

"They're under no illusions - this is an international - but they're confident in their ability," he said.

But their chances look slim if the French reproduce anything like test form.

Northern Districts: Joe Flavell (Bay of Plenty and Eastern Tornadoes), Stu Heslop (Waikato and Manurewa/Papakura), Anthony Kiro (Northland and Manurewa), Joe Rau (Northland and Manurewa), Frank Perese (Manurewa), Lance Hohaia (Waikato and Manurewa), Jason Walker (BoP), Walter Mackie (capt, Northland and HC), Kahu Henare (Northland), Nathan York (Waikato and Northcote), Brendon Solomon (Northland and HC), Taite Daniels (Northland and HC), Jason Kiore (BoP); interchange Dean Hemopo (Waikato), Hare Te Rangi (BoP and Tornadoes), Darren Laing (Waikato and Mt Albert), Jody Brewer (Waikato).

France (from): Patrice Benausse, Michael van Snick, Sylvain Houles, Arnaud Dulac, Patrick Noguera, Nicolas Piccolo, David Berthezene, Jean-Christophe Borlin, Vincent Wulf, Romain Gagliazzo, Eric Anselme, Romain Sort, Pascal Jampy, Gael Tallec, Artie Shead, Laurent Carrasco, Renaud Guigue.

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