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Wallabies can expect torrid encounter against muscled-up French pack

1. France load up on forward power.

What to make of the French team named on Saturday evening for the first Test? Well, they have clearly signalled their intent by loading up on forwards in a 6-2 split on the bench. This isn’t typical. The only time they did this during the Six Nations this year was against England at Twickenham, so that shows what they are expecting from the Wallabies.

The French are expected to provide a big physical presence at the breakdown in the first Test.

The French are expected to provide a big physical presence at the breakdown in the first Test.Credit:AP

The French have some big men on the bench, particularly in the second row/back row, so Dave Rennie’s prediction that France will kick a lot and try to exert pressure through defence looks accurate. The midfield of Jonathan Danty – who is a unit – and Athur Vincent is also physical and direct, so the collisions in Brisbane on Wednesday should be a step up from Super Rugby.

2. Jake Gordon might be the man for No.9 job

The Wallabies will unveil their side to face France about noon on Monday, and the No.9 jersey will likely prompt the most debate. Wallabies legend Tim Horan would select Tate McDermott, but you wonder if Jake Gordon might get the nod. There is a chance the Wallabies could be young at No.10 and No.12 if James O’Connor and Matt To’omua are ruled out, so a McDermott-Lolesio-Paisami combination would accentuate the lack of experience.

Jake Gordon could play the first hour against France.

Jake Gordon could play the first hour against France.Credit:Getty

At 27, Gordon is playing the best football of his career and has toughed it out this year in a poor Waratahs side, frequently putting his body on the line. If he is over his knee injury – and all indications suggest he is – he might be the man for the first 50-60 minutes before McDermott comes on as the game breaks up.

3. Tonga’s 102-0 loss to the All Blacks was good for … rugby league.

New Zealand Rugby probably dreamt of a sea of Tongan red and Samoan blue at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday for the double-header against the All Blacks and Māori All Blacks. However, the empty seats were noticeable, a far cry from the memorable scenes at the Rugby League World Cup in 2017 when Tongan fans turned up en masse.

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