Wales will improve on European Championship 2014 woe - John Kear
Last Updated: 13/10/15 11:20am
Wales coach John Kear is confident his side will improve on their 2014 showing at this year's European Championship, which starts this weekend.
The Welsh collected the wooden spoon 12 months ago after losing all three of their games.
Wales start their 2015 campaign against defending champions Scotland in Wrexham on Friday.
"A lot of our high-profile players were either having surgery or needed a rest and there was a wedding that a lot of players attended," Kear said.
"Fortunately this year, and this is no disrespect to the lads who played last year, we've got better quality on paper and we expect to do much better.
"We've got people like Phil Joseph and Craig Kopczak, who bring a great deal of experience to us and there's some youngsters such as Regan Grace and Morgan Knowles from St Helens who will be looking to make their debuts, so we've got a nice blend."
France, who open their campaign against Ireland in Albi on Sunday, will be without Catalans Dragons forward Jason Baitieri, who has flown back to Australia for a family wedding.
"He won't be available for our first two games but we're hoping to have him back, flights permitting, for our last two games against Wales and Scotland," said France coach Richard Agar, whose side lost out on the title to the Scots on points difference last year
After Sunday's opener, Agar will bring his side across the Channel to prepare for their one-off Test against England at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday week.
"You can't underestimate what a terrific honour and challenge it is for the French guys to represent their country against England," Agar added.
"The France-England games are special. From a personal point of view, I would have liked to have gone into it with a full complement of players, with Remi Casty, Vincent Duport and Eloi Pelissier, and I think England would like that as well.
"But it's going to give a terrific opportunity to some more unknown and unheralded players and provide a real platform for those guys to make a names for themselves."