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Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Friday, 22 October 2010 11:00 UK

Wales on brink of Four Nations tournament

European Cup
Venue: Stade Municipale, Albi Date: Saturday, 23 October Kick-off: 1430 BST

Iestyn Harris
Iestyn Harris has guided Wales to wins over Scotland and Ireland

Wales will take their place among rugby league's elite on Saturday if they can overcome France in Albi.

If Wales win they qualify for the 2011 Four Nations tournament with England, Australia and New Zealand.

"We've improved as a side every week that we've been together," said Wales coach Iestyn Harris.

"It'll be tough being away from home against a side like France, but everyone in this side is up for the challenge."

Both sides go into the crunch clash on Saturday with similar records in the opening two rounds.

In the opening week both sides enjoyed comfortable victories. Wales beat Scotland 60-22 and France overcame Ireland 58-24.

Wales followed that up with a close 31-30 win over Ireland in Neath while the French beat Scotland 26-12 in Albi.

Wales make two changes, skipper Lee Briers having been ruled out with a knee injury while to Crusaders' Elliot Kear returns in place of replaces Wales' record cap holder Ian Watson, who hasn't taken to the field for Wales since the Italy friendly.

Despite Welsh optimism they have to take on a French side on their own patch who head the table on points difference.

To come even this close to a place in Four Nations, the biggest rugby league event outside of the World Cup, is something Harris attributes to all the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes over the last five years.

We've got a fabulous structure in Wales now

Iestyn Harris

"We've got a fabulous structure in Wales now," Harris said.

"We've lots of youngsters playing rugby league and coming through the system and that's something that we've never had before in Wales.

"We've had the days of the mid-1990s with Jonathan Davies, Scott Gibbs and Scott Quinnell and those players in the Welsh set-up.

"But there was nothing underneath it, no kids coming through and you can't say that about us now.

"Against Italy two weeks ago there were 14 or 15 under 21s playing the game and some of them have been brought into the European Cup squad and are doing really well.

"There were a couple of individuals working against the system last week so that was an issue we've had to work with.

"But at the end of the day it's an international campaign, you don't get to work with the guys for 12 months, you only get them for two or three weeks so we need to get them as efficient as you can in less than a month."

Wales (from): Mark Lennon (Cronulla Sharks), Chris Beasley, Ian Webster (both Central Queensland Comets), Ben Flower, Gareth Thomas, Gil Dudson, Jordan James, Elliot Kear, Lloyd White, Lee Williams (all Crusaders), Ross Divorty (Featherstone Rovers), Danny Jones (Keighley Cougars), Neil Budworth (Mackay Cutters), Andrew Gay, Aled James, Christiaan Roets (all South Wales Scorpions), Jacob Emmitt (St Helens), Rhys Williams (both Warrington Wolves), Jordan Ross (York City Knights).

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see also
France 11-12 Wales
23 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Wales 31-30 Ireland
17 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Scotland 22-60 Wales
10 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Thomas scores in Wales debut loss
06 Oct 10 |  Rugby League

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