Rugby League World Cup: Olivier Elima looking forward to France's clash with New Zealand
France captain Captain Olivier Elima is looking forward to locking horns with New Zealand in Avignon on Friday.
Last Updated: 01/11/13 7:15pm
It will be a massive shock if the French beat the holders but they go into the match in good heart after defeating Papua New Guinea 9-8 in their opening Group B game, which followed an embarrassing loss to the United States in a warm-up match in Toulouse.
"It was probably a good thing losing to the USA because it gave us a kick up the backside," said Elima. "We just worked really hard on what we did wrong there.
"It is going to be a sell-out in the stadium and it is a big part of the history of rugby league in France.
"Just having a World Cup game in France, with a sell-out game in Avignon, it is just massive, and we are playing the world champions, what else can you ask for?"
Catalan Dragons forward Elima says the team spirit under new coach Richard Agar is already starting to pay off, as evidenced in their thrilling win over the Kumuls.
"Every time we come in off the pitch having done good things we do high fives and you can really see the positive side of the French team," Elima said.
"In the past, when bad things have happened, we have put our heads down but now that is gone.
"We did some bad things in the PNG game and kept thinking positive - that was a big change for us and it showed in the hard times in the game, like in the second half, but we kept working and I was really proud of the boys."