France captain Jason Baitieri has withdrawn from the team before Friday’s match against the Junior Kangaroos due to ongoing frustration with the nation’s officialdom.
Baitieri was to lead France at WIN Stadium and in a match against Western Division the following week but he told teammates after the World Cup 9s he had become disillusioned with the “lack of professionalism” at national level.
Many of France’s leading players have not made the trip to Australia and the undermanned team lost to Lebanon and England at the World Cup 9s, but beat Wales.
The poor result followed a winless campaign at the 2017 World Cup.
It is understood Baitieri hopes his stance will highlight the off-field problems which have resulted in France’s decline at international level.
"After a long and delicate reflection and with a lot of emotions, I decided not to participate in the last two matches with the France team,” Baitieri said.
“I cannot continue to play and sacrifice my body for a President and a Federation with whom I do not share the same dimension of values, respect, equality and above all honesty.
As a captain it is harder and harder for me to hide my enormous suffering and disgustJason Baitieri
“To this day, I do not feel any of these dimensions that must be transmitted by the head of the federation.
“As a captain it is harder and harder for me to hide my enormous suffering and disgust. I spent 10 beautiful years in France team where we have always worked together with honour but the last three years, I play mainly for my teammates, the staff, my family and especially my country.
“The team of France is for me the summit of our sport and I have always invested 100%, without reflection or hesitation, but today, I cannot continue this battle, which mentally weighs me too much and is lost in advance with the leaders of the XIII of France.
“As long as the Federation is what it is today, I can no longer wet my blue jersey as I have always done and I fully assume the potential impact. The lack of professionalism weighs on the entire preparation of sports events.
“Things need to change so that our sport continues to move in the right direction, with seriousness and rigour, because rugby league suffers enormously and not only in our country, but also internationally. "