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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 10:33 GMT
Castaignede backs French
By Matt Majendie

Thomas Castaignede
Castaignede says France would have been better with him
Thomas Castaignede has said France can win the World Cup but believes they would have had a better chance had he been selected.

French coach Bernard Laporte has omitted Castaignede from the tournament squad, which has left the player "severely disappointed".

But the Saracens star told the BBC Sport website: "France are capable of winning it. We've got really good players and can take on the best.

"We may have lost two games to Argentina but they're geting better and better and we didn't have our first team playing out there.

"I think we have a few guys who are really talented and have very strong forwards but the key to the French game will be the explosion of nine and 10.

"Fabien Galthie is getting back from a lot of injuries and Frederic Michalak has only played a few times. But he is very talented and is playing really well."

I like to think they're wrong
Thomas Castaignede on missing out on French selection

Castaignede had looked in contention for a World Cup berth due to his versatility. He has represented France at number 10, centre and full-back.

And he believes Laporte has made an error leaving him out.

"I was very disappointed and I like to think they're wrong, but that's life," said Castaignede.

"My only way is to go ahead and prove what I can do on the ground, show the coaches I can still play well and prove them wrong.

11/10/03: v Fiji
18/10/03: v Japan
25/10/03: v Scotland
31/10/03: v USA

He said: "I knew there was a problem with Laporte as he didn't speak to me the last few times I was with the national squad.

"I thought my mobility and my ability to play a number of positions could have helped me but he got rid of me and gave me no reason. He didn't even speak to me, but just said I was not selected."

Despite being left out of the tournament, Castaignede still believes Laporte is the right man for the job.

He added: "Laporte is a very good coach, but maybe he doesn't like me. He's been disappointed by my injuries and, by being left on the bench by Saracens, it was tough for me to show what I can do."

Laporte, however, has been criticised in some quarters for failing to stick to France's free-flowing style, instead opting for the Australian model set up in 1999.

Castaignede said: "We have a coach who loves Australia so were playing like them. They've won before and, who knows, it might work this time around."

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