Australia get 'perfect' dress rehearsal against France

rugby26 August 2023 11:33| © Reuters
Tate McDermott © Gallo Images

Struggling Australia have a "perfect opportunity" to prepare for their Rugby World Cup opener against Georgia when they play tournament hosts France in their final warm-up fixture at the Stade de France on Sunday, according to scrumhalf Tate McDermott.

The opponents may be different but the venue for both games is the same, as is the referee, Englishman Luke Pearce. It gives the Wallabies the chance to sample both the atmosphere and his style of officiating before their match with Georgia on September 9.

Australia have lost all four tests in 2023 as the return of Eddie Jones as coach has yet to bear fruit. He has dumped a number of their experienced players and opted for youth at the World Cup, meaning several of his squad have not played in France before.

"It is the perfect opportunity for us to test ourselves against another quality opposition in France," McDermott told reporters on Saturday.

"It could not have worked out any better, we have the same referee, the same field, everything from logistics to what the stadium will sound like is going to be important (to experience ahead of the Georgia game)."

France have selected a strong side and McDermott is under no illusions as to the challenge that awaits.

"There will be times in the game when we will be under the pump against a very strong French pack, so it is about dealing with the momentum shift. That will be crucial come World Cup time. The physicality aspect is going to be massive."

It is also a first game as captain for giant lock Will Skelton, who plays for La Rochelle in the French Top 14.

"It is his first game as captain and I could not be prouder of him. He is an awesome fella, and the boys absolutely love him. The way he can pull everyone together will be important," McDermott said.

Australia are in Pool C at the World Cup. They also have Wales, Fiji and Portugal in their group.