France have a testing line-up this November, starting with the All Blacks on Saturday. It’s set to be an action packed few weeks for Les Blues, with bruising rugby and plenty of action. Here is a short psych-up preview from the French Rugby Federation.
France will host two of the top three teams in the world, plus Tonga inbetween. The biggest thing on their minds right now though will be the first big challenge, a meeting with the All Blacks, the team they so famously knocked out of the Rugby World Cup in 2007, and met in the final in 2011.
The French have opted for the tried and tested in what could well be a tight contest. They’ve gone for Morgan Parra at scrumhalf, with form number nine Jonathan Pelissie not getting a shout. Remi Tales will partner Parra, while captain Thierry Dusautoir will provide the usual hard graft up front.
“I picked Morgan for his experience and his kicking skills,” Philippe Saint-Andre said. “We will have to be intelligent and focused defensively. There is obviously some fear when you face New Zealand. We should build on that fear, it must not annihilate us. We will need to run and be creative.”
The All Blacks have named their most experienced pack in history, with 538 collective caps amongst the forwards. Out wide Cory Jane returns, with Charles Piutau on the other wing. Up front the loose trio of Liam Messam, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read are sure to prove a handful.
“France are one of our great rugby foes and there is a rich history of matches between our two countries, so we are certainly looking forward to this weekend,” said coach Steve Hansen.
“We know this weekend’s Test won’t be easy – the French will come at us with real physicality, passion and something new.
The All Blacks will be wearing their alternate white strip, with a red poppy embossed on the sleeve to mark Armistice Day (November 11), the anniversary of the end of hostilities of World War 1. The last Test between the two sides in Paris was in 2006.
Brice Dulin, Yoann Huget, Florian Fritz, Wesley Fofana, Maxime Médard, Remi Tales, Morgan Parra; Yannick Forestier, Benjamin Kayser, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Papé, Yoann Maestri, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Wenceslas Lauret, Damian Chouly Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Vincent Debaty, Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Antonie Claassen, Jean-Marc Doussain, Camille Lopez, Gael Fickou
New Zealand team:
Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Charles Piutau, Daniel Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam, Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Ryan Crotty