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Not a 'B' team say French

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Sportal.co.nz     22 Sep 2011     Getty Images

The New Zealand Herald on Wednesday labeled the selection of the French side as a farce - but No.8 Imanol Harinordoquy said nothing could be further from the truth.

"We have played only two game so far and we weren't very good. This will be a good test against New Zealand to know where we are and what more we have to do," said Harinordoquy, who was named to start on the bench.

"It is the best team we can put on the field. I am upset not to be starting but the competition is not finished yet and hopefully I can enter the match for 30 minutes which would be more than the five minutes I got against Canada."

Harinordoquy said France could not afford to lose to the All Blacks because they faced a tough last pool game against Tonga.

"They (New Zealand) are the strongest team in the world and that gives you motivation to play against them," he said.

"You have to be at your best, and heroic. We beat them in 2009 in Dunedin because we played with a lot of solidarity and very good defence. But if you play like them you will get beaten playing that sort of game."

"We want to play this match to win. That would be the best thing for us."

Harinordoquy admitted it would be a difficult task to upset the tournament hosts but Ireland had shown with their victory over Australia that anything was possible.

Harinordoquy also felt the All Blacks would have plenty to play for to ensure that captain Richie McCaw had a memorable 100th Test for the side.

"Perhaps there will be a national holiday," he quipped.

Harinordoquy said France needed to be strong in defence to beat New Zealand and expected players like McCaw, Sonny Bill Williams and Jerome Kaino to make life difficult.

"When you let them advance, they can be very difficult to stop," he said.

Harinordoquy has fond memories of France's upset quarter-final win over the All Blacks in Cardiff at the 2007 World Cup, describing that match - won by Les Bleus 20-18 - as a 'special match'.

"It was a special occasion because we were not expected to win. But there is more on our shoulders this time. This time we will need to be heroic, to have solidarity in defence," he said.