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France
Big-money Top 14 signings 'damaging France'
ESPN Staff
January 24, 2014
Pape is concerned by the impact of the likes of Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau in France © Getty Images
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Big-money imports to the Top 14 are damaging France's national team development, according to captain Pascal Pape and coach Philippe Saint-Andre.

The Top 14 is becoming the most lucrative domestic competition in the world and clubs are signing up top players from around the world. But that is causing problem with the development of domestic talent.

"To fill in some positions in the team can become very difficult indeed," Pape said. "My club trusts home-grown players and that's important, and I wish more did the same. Other clubs don't, it's a shame and it impacts on the national side. It is something that we could really do with changing."

Saint Andre highlighted issues with finding a goal kicker. For the opening match against England Maxime Machenaud, of Racing Metro - who sits behind Jonny Sexton, the Ireland fly half, in the kicking pecking order - is likely to get the role.

"This is the biggest problem, we have no one who is first-choice kicker for their club," Saint-Andre said. "We have a lot of guys with talent, but it is not easy for them to play many games."

At least he has won one battle. The Top 14 clubs have agreed to rest their France players from matches this weekend. "For the first time, the 23 players will not play in a league match this week," he said. "That makes us the same as the other five teams."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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