Not far from kick-off now, assuming that’ll happen at the advertised time of 8pm local. Ha. But given it’s 8pm already and there’s no sign of the teams yet, that’s unlikely.
Here’s confirmation of tonight’s line-ups:
Matthew Armstrong emails in with, possibly, an answer to my earlier question. “I believe chanticleer is an archaic French translation of rooster. Sadly I don’t know this from the French I learned growing up in Canada, but from the fact that I used to frequent a drinking establishment called the Chanticleer that had a giant neon rooster above the door.” Drinking? Giant neon roosters? Sounds plausible enough to me.
Good news from the NRL earlier today: the long-running pay standoff has ended! Huzzah! In a deal labelled a huge win for everyone, players will receive a 52% pay rise and an allocation of $3.75m has been set aside for the women’s game. Open this guide for more details.
(Half interesting) factoids: France is one of only four nations to have played at every Rugby League World Cup since the tournament’s inception in 1954. Sacré bleu! That said, they haven’t progressed past the group stage since the 1960s. They have found a way to beat Australia 13 times out of the 59 games this pair have played; the Kangaroos have won 44, with two games drawn, including the last 15 – a run that stretches back to 1978.
Some late mail on the Australian lineup: James Maloney has been ruled out of the running to “deal with a private matter”, according to the Kangaroos. The Cronulla player, who had initially been given the nod to replace Cooper Cronk, left camp last night to head back to Sydney. There’s inevitably some speculation his departure has to do with reports surfacing of an NRL player swap with Penrith’s Matt Moylan but, as Cronk has just said on the telly, it’s a private matter and that link can’t be made.
Jake Trbojevic is out with that pulled pectoral muscle of his, but his brother, Tom is in to take his national team bow. Turbo Tom is one of four debutants tonight, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Cameron Munster also starting, the latter as a late replacement for Maloney, while Felise Kaufusi will come off the bench. Josh McGuire gets the chance to start in Jake’s absence while Cronk (hooter), Dane Gagai, Boyd Cordner and Matt Gillett are rested. Valentine Holmes comes back in after the briefest of absences to replace Maloney.
For France, Olivier Arnaud has been named at centre and Remy Marginet at five-eighth. Captain and St Helens halfback Theo Fages will once again be one to watch, along with last weekend’s standout performer, Bastien Ader.
Australia: 1. Billy Slater 2. Tom Trbojevic 3. Will Chambers 4. Josh Dugan 5. Josh Mansour 6. Michael Morgan 14. Cameron Munster 8. Jordan McLean 9. Cameron Smith 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Wade Graham 12. Tyson Frizell 13. Josh McGuire. Bench: 15. Felise Kaufusi 16. Aaron Woods 17. David Klemmer 18. Valentine Holmes.
France: 1. Mark Kheirallah 2. Fouad Yaha 3. Bastien Ader 4. Olivier Arnaud 5. Ilias Bergal 6. Remy Marginet 7. Theo Fages 13. Jason Baitieri 17. John Boudebza 10. Julian Bousquet 11. Benjamin Gacria 12. Benjamin Jullien 15. Mickael Rouch. Bench: 8. Maxime Herold 9. Eloi Pelissier 14. Thibault Margalet 16. Romain Navarrete.
Hello, welcome one and all. If last week’s tournament opener between Australia and England was considered pre-match to be a nailed-on victory for the Kangaroos, you can presumably put your house, its contents and the kids’ future education on the result of tonight’s game against France going the host nation’s way.
As it turned out last Friday night, Mal Meninga’s men were pushed hard by Burgess, Graham et al and the final scoreline flattered slightly once Josh Dugan’s tattooed legs had pumped the rest of his body the best part of the length of the pitch to ice victory late on in Melbourne.
To Canberra, and GIO Stadium, and with another week in camp with his charges though, Meninga should have been able to iron out any of the deficiencies that came to light in his team’s first outing and impose themselves on the French from the outset – something they were unable to do against the English seven days ago.
If they can, France, aka les Chanticleers (a word that interests me but sadly one which I’ll never know the meaning of as a popular online translation service unhelpfully translates it as “les Chanticleers”, cheers Google), are facing a swift exit from the competition, having failed to beat Lebanon in their opener at this very same venue. A pointless campaign for Aurelien Cologni’s team looms as a very real possibility.
Anyway, we’ll have more of an idea of that as the evening progresses. Feel free to get in touch at any point with any thoughts on the game or, even better, some illumination of the exact meaning of “les Chanticleers”. You can get me on email ([email protected]) or on Twitter @mike_hytner. Kick-off is at 8pm in the nation’s capital, that’s 10am in Paris and 9am in the UK.
Mike will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s what we learned from last weekend’s opening round of fixtures: