Grit over flair for France
Grit over flair for FranceSHARE
France may not play with much flair anymore, but the All Blacks are expecting a different kind of challenge in Paris this weekend.
French teams of the past were known for their expansive and unpredictable style, but that has changed in recent times with the focus more on physicality and discipline.
The All Blacks are chasing the first perfect season in the professional era, and their next assignment is against a French side that they whitewashed 3-0 in New Zealand earlier this year.
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said that whilst 'French flair' may be a thing of the past, they will rely on other strengths such as a strong set-piece and defensive discipline to try and disrupt the visitors on Saturday.
He told Fairfax NZ news: "In the past there has been a flair to their game, but there probably hasn't been as much attention to some of the detail of the game.
"Now what we're seeing is a very disciplined French team. In the three Tests in June they showed that at set-piece and on defence. A lot of the core parts of the game they've got a lot of discipline in, and we found them hard to break in June and we're pretty sure Saturday is going to be no exception," he added.
Foster said that although the All Blacks won all three matches against them in June, they are expecting them to take their game to the next level in front of their home crowd.
"We saw in June how tough All Blacks-France Test matches are, and when you come to France they seem to go up a couple of cogs," he said.
"It's two nations who have a great history against one another, and there's a lot of respect from us. This is a game that's a bit of a highlight for us."
"If you go through history they are a team who have got the capabilities to beat us. We're a good team, we're playing well, and we're trying to improve.
"But we certainly respect the fact if they're at their best it's going to be an almighty challenge," he said.
Flank Liam Messam echoed that view and made it clear that the All Blacks will be taking nothing for granted in Paris.
"This is their house, they're playing in front of their fans and family, and it's just like us when we play at home, we live for our fans and families," Messam said.
"We know it's going to be a tough challenge. They're a very dangerous side and they know what they're doing," he explained.
The All Blacks are set to name their team on Thursday as they hope to welcome back Owen Franks, Luke Romano and Cory Jane from injury whilst the health of Julian Savea is a concern after was still battling a dose of the 'flu in Paris on Monday.