By Brad Walter / NRL.com Senior Reporter
Former Warriors star Lauréane Biville has revealed that other French players have expressed an interest in testing themselves in the NRLW as she prepares for this weekend’s Test against England at Gilbert Brutus Stadium.
Biville, who played for the Warriors at the 2020 NRL 9s in Perth but was forced to abandon her NRLW dream and return home to France last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hopes her experience will help the young French team against an imposing England side.
The women’s Test will be broadcast on Fox Sports and Kayo from 9.55pm on October 23, ahead of the France-England men’s Test.
“I think it was my best decision to go to Australia because I learned a lot of things,” Biville told NRL.com.
“The coaching is very different in Australia and how you play, and how you see the game is very different in Australia.
“I came back to France with a new vision of footy and with new skills, so I think it has helped me a lot. I found it has been easier for me to play in France since I came back from Australia because I just have a different game that not all the girls have.”
The 22-year-old still harbours a desire to play in the NRLW and is excited by the admission of the Gold Coast to next year’s competition after being selected for an invitational Titans team in 2019 while playing for Easts Tigers in the QRL’s BHP Cup competition.
“It is still in my mind to try to play in the NRLW because it is the only goal I didn’t check on my check list in Australia, but with all the things happening in the world nothing is for certain now,” Biville said.
“After the corona virus I lost my job and all the competitions were suspended so I just had to make a decision quickly to come back to France. I thought that a few months later I would go back to Australia, but I couldn’t because Australia closed all the borders.
“We had a lot of lockdowns in France, for a really long time. The first one I did in France was for two months, then we spent summer like normal, and then we came back into lockdown for six months.
“It was really, really hard and it wasn’t easy to keep training or to keep my routine that I had in Australia. It was very hard mentally and physically, but there were positives because I was with my family and friends.”
Biville’s family – including brother Louis, who plays alongside former NRL forward Eddy Pettybourne for Limoux Grizzlies in France’s Elite One competition – will be on hand to watch her sixth Test appearance before an anticipated capacity crowd in Perpignan.
Usually a centre or winger, Biville will play second row in a France side boasting five of her team-mates from Racing Club Lescure Arthes XIII and she said other players had spoken to her about the possibility of playing in the NRLW.
“I have had some younger girls who have talked to me about how it was, especially the new generation,” Biville said.
“They have to realise that you don’t just go to Australia, play footy all the time and you get paid a lot. You are alone on the other side of the world, you have to work as well and you have to be good if you want to play.
“It is good to see that the NRL is developing new teams. When I did the invitational game for the Titans they weren’t sure about building a team, so I think it is a good opportunity for girls who have not played NRLW yet.
“I hope for the girls that one day they will have their own NRLW competition like the men, so it is very exciting. Next year is going to be a big year for the players with the NRLW and the World Cup.”
France did not send a women’s team to the 2017 World Cup in Australia but Biville said support for all areas of the game had increased significantly since last December’s election of FFRXIII president Luc Lacoste, who is leading the bid to host the 2025 tournament.
“They are just little things, but it has meant a lot for us as players,” Biville said.
“It is the first time that we get paid when we spend the week with the national team. It is not as much as the men, but it is something we never had before.
“This Test is going to be very challenging for us because the competition in France hasn’t started yet and we have got a lot of new faces. There are a lot of young girls who haven’t played international games so they don’t really know the level and they don’t have the experience.
“It is going to a hard time for us and very intense for 80 minutes so sometimes we will have to sacrifice for the other girls, but it will be a good experience for the team, just to get stronger and to see what we have to work on before the World Cup.”
Elisa Ciria (RC Lescure Arthes 13); Christina Song-Puche (Déesses Catalanes), Mélanie Bianchini (Déesses Catalanes), Zoé Pastre-Courtine (Déesses Catalanes), Manon Samarra (RC Lescure Arthes 13); Elodie Pacull (Pia Baroudeuses), Alice Varela (Toulouse Ovalie); Jeanne Bernard (RC Lescure Arthes 13), Cyndia Mansard (Toulouse Ovalie), Gaëlle Alvherne (RC Lescure Arthes 13), Elisa Akpa (Déesses Catalanes), Laureane Biville (RC Lescure Arthes 13), Leila Bessalhi (Déesses Catalanes). Interchange: Fanny Ramos (Déesses Catalanes), Mailys Borak (Marseille XIII Avenir), Inès Legout (Toulouse Ovalie), Tallis Kuresa (Girondins De Bordeaux), Lauriane Canet (Limoux Grizzgirls), Nadia Olm-Rouppert (Toulouse Ovalie), Perrine Montsarrat (RC Lescure Arthes 13).
Tara-Jane Stanley (Castleford Tigers); Fran Goldthorp (Leeds Rhinos), Savannah Andrade (York City Knights), Amy Hardcastle (St Helens), Caitlin Beevers (Leeds Rhinos); Jodie Cunningham (St Helens), Beth Stott (St Helens); Grace Field (York City Knights), Tara Jones (St Helens), Chantelle Crowl (St Helens), Emily Rudge (St Helens) (C), Hollie Dodd (Castleford Tigers), Vicky Molyneux (Wigan Warriors). Interchange: Shona Hoyle (Huddersfield Giants), Paige Travis (St Helens), Vicky Whitfield (St Helens), Rachael Woosey (St Helens)