France to ‘fight in­tel­li­gently’ in their bid to beat the All Blacks

Italy chase an his­toric vic­tory, but fear Wal­laby back­lash

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

The All Blacks warmed up for their Euro­pean tour with a crush­ing 54-6 win over Ja­pan in Tokyo last week­end, and will be look­ing to main­tain their mo­men­tum be­fore fac­ing Eng­land and Ire­land.

Three All Blacks with 100plus Test caps and an­other with 98 will take the field at Stade de France, and the visi­tors’ squad fea­tures 853 Test caps in the start­ing XV.

In the for­wards, 105- Test prop Tony Wood­cock will pack down along­side 108-Test hooker Keven Mealamu, while cap­tain Richie McCaw re­turns on the open­side flank for his 122nd Test match, and fly­half Dan Carter plays his 99th.

Full­back Bruce Dulin, with only seven caps, prop Yan­nick Forestier, with five, and flanker Wences­las Lauret, with four, are vastly in­ex­pe­ri­enced com­pared to their New Zealand op­po­site num­bers.

De­spite that gulf, Saint- An­dre main­tains France can com­pete.

“The play­ers are ready men­tally,” he said. “We’ll have to be very good in de­fence.”

The All Blacks edged France 8-7 in the fi­nal to win the World Cup two years ago.

“The play­ers know they just missed out on vic­tory there (in the World Cup fi­nal) and there wasn’t much miss­ing,” Sain­tAn­dre said.

But Saint-An­dre has taken the risky step of go­ing up against the tac­ti­cal bril­liance of Carter with a new half­back pair­ing of Mor­gan Parra and Remi Tales.

“Mor­gan’s ex­pe­ri­ence counts, as well as his abil­ity as a kicker,” Saint- An­dre said. “We need a long kick­ing game.”

The visi­tors will be wear­ing their al­ter­nate white strip which will be em­bossed with a red poppy on the sleeve to mark Ar­mistice Day, on November 11, the an­niver­sary of the end of World War I in which more than a dozen men who wore the famed black jersey lost their lives.

“France is one of our great rugby foes and there is a rich his­tory of matches be­tween our two coun­tries,” Hansen said. “The French will come at us with real phys­i­cal­ity, pas­sion and some­thing new.”

How­ever, the French have not beaten New Zealand on home soil since an 42-33 win in 2000 and not in Paris since 1973 and have been some crush­ing losses – 45-6 in 2004 and 47-3 two years later.

Lock Pas­cal Pape re­turns to the side for the first time since limp­ing off in­jured against Italy in the Six Na­tions in Fe­bru­ary.

France are look­ing for form and con­fi­dence af­ter fin­ish­ing last in the Six Na­tions for the first time since the tour­na­ment was formed 13 years ago. – Sapa-AP

How­ever, Brunel is not alone in think­ing Ewen McKen­zie’s side will emerge at the Olympic Sta­dium look­ing to make amends for a 20-13 de­feat at Twick­en­ham.

“You can’t say it’s the best time to be meet­ing Aus­tralia. I’m sure that af­ter last week’s de­feat, which to me was quite un­lucky, they will bring a lot of in­ten­sity and rhythm into this match,” Brunel said in Turin on Thurs­day.

The statis­tics, how­ever, sug­gest Italy have a real chance to claim what would be their first ever win over Aus­tralia in 16 at­tempts.

Hav­ing al­lowed Eng­land to over­turn their 13-6 half-time deficit in Lon­don, Aus­tralia’s dreams of a five-Test Grand Slam came un­done at the first hur­dle.

The pres­sure on McKen­zie has only in­ten­si­fied.

Ahead of fur­ther matches against Ire­land, Scot­land and Wales, he ad­mits Italy will be a tougher nut to crack than they were this time last year when the Aussies held on to claim a 22-19 win in Florence.

“We’ve never had an easy game here in Italy and even last year they had a chance to tie the game af­ter the fi­nal siren,” said McKen­zie.

McKen­zie has made only one change from the XV that started against Eng­land, with Rob Sim­mons, known pri­mar­ily as a lock, com­ing in at blind­side flanker to re­place Scott Fardy, who is un­avail­able af­ter suf­fer­ing con­cus­sion.

Sim­mons’ in­clu­sion is de­signed to add mus­cle to the set-pieces of the scrum and li­ne­out, and McKen­zie added: “Hav­ing Simmo re­turn will ben­e­fit us in that re­gard. He’s in­stru­men­tal in us win­ning our own ball while we’ll be look­ing for him to put pres­sure on their li­ne­out and scrum.”

Italy are renowned for their set-piece strength and sec­ond row for­ward An­to­nio Pa­vanello be­lieves con­sis­tency is the key.

“Last year we came into our game in the sec­ond half and this time we want to play well from the be­gin­ning,” he said.

“If there is one point where we can put pres­sure on Aus­tralia, I’m sure it’s in the for­wards. But we have to go out and do it, not just talk about it.” – Sapa-AFP


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