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Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post, Stuff.co.nz, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport.  He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.

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OPINION: Maori All Blacks loss a warning for All Blacks

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Jim Kayes     11 Nov 2017     Getty Images

The Maori All Blacks were error ridden, ill-disciplined and fell off tackles in their 19-15 loss to the French Barbarians in Bordeaux - things the All Blacks can ill afford to be in Sunday’s Test at Stade de France.

They had a player (perhaps wrongly) sent to the sinbin, conceded 15 penalties, missed 10 tackles, made 11 handling errors and turned the ball over a whopping 18 times.

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If the All Blacks do that against France they will lose - even if this French side has six on debut, were beaten 3-0 by South Africa in June and appear to be, as they so often are, in a bit of a shambles.

The French Barbarians were a tossed together side but they got stuck into the Maori All Blacks, playing with an aggression that tested tempers with several scuffles breaking out in the second half.

They lost replacement loose forward Jordan Manihera to a yellow card for clearing a player out after the whistle though replays suggested referee Shuhei Kubo may have got his timing wrong, not Manihera.

Still, you have to play to the referee it worked in the Maori All Blacks favour when they convinced Kubo to change his mind about a penalty try that took them to 19-15 late in the match.

It’s a reminder to the All Blacks to take the referee out of the game through positive play in Paris. A quick check of history would remind them too.
In 2007 when they lost to France in the World Cup quarterfinal referee Wayne Barnes famously never penalised France in the second half, while blowing the pea out of his whistle against the All Blacks.

The All Blacks arrived in Paris with a record of 17 wins in the last 20 Tests against France with two defeats and a draw.

They have to keep telling each other that record is irrelevant because World Cups tell us that.

France were never meant to win in Cardiff, they were not expected to get within a point of the All Blacks in the World Cup final in 2015 and should have been put away when Jonah Lomu scored just after halftime in the semifinal in 1999.

That converted try gave the All Blacks a 14-point lead but it wasn’t enough as France scored 23 scintillating points to secure an upset win.

Former All Blacks captain Graham Mourie reckons the only thing predictable about the French is that they are unpredictable.
He should know. Mourie, who debuted for the All Blacks as their captain and was skipper in 57 of his 61 appearances in the black jersey, captained the All Blacks on two tours to France and finished with record of four wins from the six tests in his career.

In 1977 they played a French Selection four times - which was often the test team by another name - and while they won all four, they duly lost the first Test in Toulon before winning the second in Paris.

But the All Blacks are capable of great things against France. They cleaned them up in Cardiff in the 2015 World Cup quarterfinal and thrashed them 45-6 in 2004 in Paris. That night they destroyed the French scrum and, with a succession of French props forced from the field, forced the referee to call for Golden Oldie scrums.

France were booed by their own fans. It was a remarkable evening.

If the All Blacks get it right again in Paris this time and learn some lessons from the Maori All Blacks defeat, it could be a remarkable evening again.