The Post

Wilson fearful of French sucker punch


‘We think we’re going to clean them up – we’re not.’ Stu Wilson, above

Former All Blacks captain Stu Wilson fears Steve Hansen’s side are walking straight into another French ambush ahead of their Rugby World Cup quarterfin­al.

Despite France’s history of knocking over the All Blacks at World Cups – Sunday’s test is a repeat of the infamous 2007 clash at the same stage and venue, while they also dumped the Kiwis out in the 1999 semifinals – critics have been quick to write off Les Bleus’ chances following Monday’s 24-9 loss to Ireland.

But Wilson said when it came to France versus the All Blacks, recent form counted for nothing.

‘‘It’ll be worth watching this because I think New Zealand, we’re getting suckered by the French, we think we’re going to clean them up – we’re not. It’s going to be close,’’ Wilson said. ‘‘They love the big one-off games and I am really concerned when I read critics who know a bit about rugby saying, after what they saw against Ireland, ‘France is dreadful’.

‘‘France have been dreadful the last three years but guess who made the final back in 2011? Guess who had a chance to win the game in 2011?’’

France may not have set the world on fire in the group stages but Wilson was as unimpresse­d with the All Blacks’ pool form. After surviving a tough opening test against Argentina they laboured to victories over Namibia and Georgia.

They took things up a notch in Saturday’s 47-9 win over Tonga but Wilson said they hadn’t generated enough momentum, which is crucial to a successful World Cup campaign.

‘‘We got a little bit better against Tonga but our momentum is not great,’’ he added. ‘‘You have a look at the momentum the Aussies [have] got – every game their momentum got better and better, their engine is purring. We haven’t even got into third gear. You’ve got to be in top gear when you’re into the quarterfin­als.’’

However, one player who certainly wouldn’t shy away from the pressure was rookie winger Nehe Milner-Skudder, Wilson said.

‘‘He’s a guy who just absolutely loves an adrenaline rush. He’s not a guy who goes into his shell and thinks ‘80,000 people at Millennium Stadium, quarterfin­al of the World Cup’. The bigger the occasion the better he’ll go.’’

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