French lessons of 2016 have been absorbed

Getty Images

Lynn McConnell     10 Nov 2017     Getty Images

First five-eighths Beauden Barrett said that Test was a useful tool to look back on to remember the style of rugby France played.


"You get a feel of what you're up against because it has been 12 months and they're players we're not used to playing against. It's not like we're playing a South Africa or an Australia. There may be changes but in terms of style it will be pretty similar," he said.

It would be a physical game. He remembered the first half of last year's Test because it was very physical. The French liked to come out almost with a bullying type of mentality, he said.

They would also possibly try to hold onto the ball for longer, as they did last year.

"They are kicking a lot less, they are building phases, they throw the most off-loads so they are starving their opposition of ball. I guess our defence has to be up to it, getting on top early and not allowing them to get that tempo and build those phases that they like.

"I guess you could say it starts at set-piece and a few phases after that," he said.
Getting the balance between using the attacking style of game with the demands imposed by circumstance was an ongoing work-on for him, just as it was for fullback Damian McKenzie, he said.

"He reminds me of my younger self. I get excited every time he gets the ball because I know what he can do. But he's going to get better and better just by experience," he said.

France would be fielding a young and inexperienced inside-back combination of halfback 20-year-old Antoine Dupont and 21-year-old first five-eighths Anthony Belleau.

"They're exciting players, we're aware of their strengths and also their weaknesses. If they go down that path it's good for them, introducing new players to the game, giving them opportunities at this level so it's exciting for them," he said.
Lock Luke Romano said he hadn't had a lot of opportunities to start this year but he was keen and ready to make the most of them when they occurred. He did go in with an extra edge to perform because he was aware he might not get another chance for a while.

He said he felt he was at a stage where he was accustomed to the All Blacks' game.

"When you start off you are sort of a bit daunted and you sort of get a little physically out-muscled. I feel like I have grown into that side of the game and now I feel like I can go out there and impose myself on a game. That's been happening over the last year or so, especially in Super Rugby," he said.

It was a case of believing what you were capable of and what you could go out and back yourself to do, he said.

"Any time you get the opportunity to wear the black jersey you savour it, whether it's your first of your 100th. It's such a special jersey to all New Zealanders.

"You don't want to let the team down, you don't want to let your jersey down so you prepare to go out there and play to your best and do what the team needs you to do," he said.