If there is one thing predictable about France’s selection, it is its unpredictability. This has been shown by a succession of coaches, who select and drop players at will.
While Jacques Brunel has tempered this volatile reputation that France have been associated with, he is in no way perfect and he has made some peculiar calls ahead of their World Cup quarter-final contest with Wales this Sunday in Oita.
Back row/lock Arthur Iturria misses out on a place in the matchday 23 despite being one of France’s best performers over the past year. His ASM Clermont team-mate Alivereti Raka also misses out, which has been the cause of delight for many Welsh fans on social media.
The Fijian-born Raka made the RWC squad after making his debut during the warm-up Tests in August. He has since started against the United States and Tonga, scoring a try in both contests.
Neither of those performances were vintage from France, but the 24-year-old winger showed glimpses of how destructive he can be, particularly against Tonga.
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It was always going to be tough to break into the team ahead of Yoann Huget or the recently recovered Damian Penaud, as both wingers have been staples of Brunel’s teams (not that that means much).
However, Raka also misses out on the bench, with Vincent Rattez getting the nod despite missing out on the initial RWC squad.
This is music to Welsh fans’ ears, as a player with that much individual brilliance will always be dangerous, regardless of how poorly France may be playing. This is what has been said:
…and a boost for Wales, they haven’t picked Raka!! pic.twitter.com/o09EtvnBVe
— CoDAtim (@codatim) October 18, 2019
Dangerous players everywhere but that’s always the case with France. No Raka is a boost. https://t.co/b8AbrV2Jhx
— Stuart Coles (@StuartJDColes) October 18, 2019
Happy to see Raka not involved
— Andrew Burton (@0787Burton) October 18, 2019
We're gonna struggle to begin with so it's unbelievable that they're not starting with Chat. Alivereti Raka not even on the bench!
Easy win for Wales.
— D A N T H E C O O L (@DanTheCool) October 18, 2019
No Raka in the 23? Is he injured? He's the one player I was having nightmares about. https://t.co/Gt3cHy3gBi
— Hywel Roberts (@HywelRoberts2) October 18, 2019
Quite happy Wales won’t have to face another Fijian force of destruction in Raka at the weekend. Just Vakatawa to deal with…
— Huw Stark (@starky88) October 18, 2019
France’s performances are as unpredictable as their selection, as they have already shown so far this RWC.
A brilliant opening 40 minutes against Argentina was followed by another 40 where they barely decided to play. No one knows which France will turn up on Sunday but in spite of some anomalous selections, they are always dangerous, particularly in knockout matches.
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