Stéphane Antiga

A player capable of driving home missile-like spikes to leave the opposition flatfooted and helpless, Stéphane Antiga, who often joins teammates on the court with brightly colored hair, is widely recognized as one of the great talents of the French lineup.

Indeed there is little doubt that this 2m universal player, who can be as devastating mounting the defense as in attack, is a crucial component in an exciting French side.

Although Antigua readily admits his serve is his weak spot it is compensated by his passion for blocking. "First of all it is all about placement. Then it's about reflexes and trying to keep contact to a minimum. I love the ball, I liken myself to being a goalkeeper. The No 1 goal is just to touch the ball and prevent it from going into our court. But when it comes to blocking one doesn't think about it, it's just second nature."

If the rest of his game is up to scratch it will go a long way to erasing the memory of France's performance in the World League over the past couple of seasons, which he ranks as bad moments in his illustrious career.

In Argentina the French gave their best ever performance and wound up the tournament by humbling the Olympic champions Yugoslavia in the playoff for bronze. The 27-year-old was chosen as the wing spiker in the "Super Seven Selection" and was also awarded the second Best Digger of the tournament and is sure to be in the calculations again for the player awards during this year's World League.

Antiga plays in the first team for elite club Paris Volley. He has gained well over 100 caps for the national squad since his debut in 1996 and this year will be his sixth World League appearance.