Fighting talk from Galthie should put fear in rivals
The Rugby Paper|July 25, 2021
It should come as precisely no surprise that France head coach Fabien Galthie reckons he knows 90 per cent of his squad for the next World Cup, two years before the first match kicks off.
JAMES HARRINGTON

It’s not hard to imagine that every international coach could name the bulk of their preferred squad for France 2023, in private if not in public. That’s the relatively easy bit.

It’s always that last ten per cent – those final few hard-call names – that is difficult. Which player best fits the overall game plan? Who complements a nailed-on option better? Who can the coach call on for a very specific role?

They are the ones Galthie was looking for on the Australian tour – which makes this the more interesting, and potentially scary, quote: “In 17 matches, we have used 67 players. That’s more than the objective I set myself.

“I wanted to get 50 players – three per position. We are at four per position. With 67 players, the group is not complete but we have identified almost all the available potential.”

Galthie – contracted to the end of the 2023 World Cup – has long counted his tenure as head coach in terms of games played and games to play.

If all goes according to his grand plan between now and then, he has somewhere in the region of 29 matches to the World Cup final – 22 or so of those before he names his final squad for the tournament, and perhaps 19 before the warm-up matches.

That means Galthie’s more than 40 per cent of the way through his available pre-World Cup game-time.

“Our ambition is to continue to develop and strengthen this team,” Galthie said, in a sentence that should probably have rival coaches reaching for the purely medicinal gin.

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