All Blacks wary of history lesson
rubber. Such games can be lame ducks, but Hansen has approved enough changes to ensure the armchair critics had best be loaded up with buckets of popcorn. Because there will be plenty to discuss.
There should be apprehension and a frisson of excitement among the All Blacks. This is new territory with Damian McKenzie in the main director’s chair, a fresh midfield in Sonny Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue, and Shannon Frizell earning his first cap at No 6.
French coach Jacques Brunel has made two changes, both to the midfield. Captain and centre Mathieu Bastareaud has been replaced by Wesley Fofana, who will start alongside Remi Lamerat. Halfback Morgan Parra takes over as skipper.
This indicates France will want to play with speed and accuracy.
‘‘It’s interesting – they have not picked the captain,’’ was Hansen’s reaction. ‘‘But they have obviously got a plan there. The two guys they have put in the midfield aren’t bad, though.
‘‘They are world-class players. They will be quicker. I wouldn’t say they are better rugby players but they played a different style of rugby than he [Bastareaud] does, which would probably indicate they want to run the ball a bit.’’
France players celebrate their famous win over the All Blacks the last time the teams met in Dunedin, in 2009.