St Helens playmaker Theo Fages has been named captain of the France team for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Fages will lead a 24-man squad which includes five players from English-based Super League clubs and eight from Les Catalans Dragons, who avoided relegation last Saturday by beating Leigh in the “Million Pound Game”.
Among them are former Penrith and Brisbane under-20s player Benjamin Garcia, who was named as one of two vice-captains along with Toulouse Olympique halfback William Barthau.
Former Parramatta and Sydney Roosters second rower Jason Baitieri, who plays alongside Garcia for Les Catalans, is the only member of the France squad with NRL experience.
Toulouse Olympique boasts five players from the team which beat Sheffield Eagles in the Championship Shield final last weekend, although Papua New Guinea-born winger Kuni Minga is an absentee due to injury after missing the match.
Also unavailable for selection by France coach Aurélien Cologni were former Sydney Roosters prop Remy Casty (broken hand) and centre Vincent Duport (knee).
Barthau is one of nine survivors from the France team which lost to England in Wayne Bennett’s first game as coach last October, along with Garcia, winger Olivier Arnaud, back rowers Julian Bousquet and Benjamin Jullien, hooker Eloi Pelissier and props Roman Navarette and Gadwin Springer.
The inclusion of Fages, who played in the St Helens team which just missed a place in the Super League grand final after an extra time field goal by Castleford’s Luke Gale last Thursday night, is a boost to the France’s World Cup hopes.
The 23-year-old son of former France international Pascal Fages was a member of the les Chanticleers squad for the 2013 World Cup and has played more than 100 Super League matches since moving from Perpignan to Salford as a teenager.
France will play a warm-up Test against Jamaica in Perpignan on October 13 before departing for Australia to prepare for its opening World Cup clash with Lebanon in Canberra on October 29.
Les Chanticleers also play Australia in Canberra on November 3 and England in Perth on November 12.
RLWC 2017 | FRANCE
Bastien Ader (Toulouse Olympique)
Olivier Arnaud (SO Avignon XIII)
Lucas Albert (Catalans Dragons)
Jason Baitieri (Catalans Dragons)
William Barthau (Toulouse Olympique)
Guillaume Bonnet (SO Avignon XIII)
Julian Bousquet (Catalans Dragons)
Clement Boyer (Toulouse Olympique)
Damien Cardace (FC Lezignan)
Nabil Djalout (Catalans Dragons)
Theo Fages (St Helens) captain
John Boudebza (London Harlequins)
Benjamin Garcia (Catalans Dragons)
Maxime Herold (XIII Limouxin)
Benjamin Jullien (Warrington Wolves)
Thibault Margalet (Catalans Dragons)
Anthony Maria (Toulouse Olympique)
Hakim Miloudi (Doncaster/Hull FC)
Mark Keirallah (Toulouse Olympique)
Roman Navarette (Catalans Dragons)
Eloi Pelissier (Leigh Centurions)
Mickael Rouch (XIII Limouxin)
Gadwin Springer (Castleford Tigers)
Fouad Yaha (Catalans Dragons)