All Blacks work on countering French
Wed, 21 Sep 2011 5:00a.m.
The All Blacks have wound the clock back four
years, re-creating scenes from their last World Cup debacle as they step
up preparations for a showdown with France on Saturday.
on Tuesday was on targeting the French strengths and shutting down
Morgan Parra, the scrum-half who has been surprisingly selected to
replace Francois Trinh-Duc at fly-half.
The All Blacks have a
score to settle with France, who tipped them out of the quarter-finals
at Cardiff in 2007and there's grim resolve not to let that happen again.
Training in secret, they ran through moves they believe France will use and practised how to counter them.
"We know we're going into a big battle," scrum half Andy Ellis said at the end of training.
France have been scratchy in their two wins so far in this year's cup, but the All Blacks are bracing for an intense clash.
"It's going to be physical, a lot of intensity, a team like France play with a lot of passion and emotion," Ellis said.
"Their style of play may be slightly different to what we're used to and we're adapting to that."
Keven Mealamu, who like Ellis did not take the field for the last World
Cup match against France, said memories of the loss had been put out of
mind for four years until now.
"For a lot of us pretty much
haven't spoken about it since. But for us to move forward it's good to
see where we went wrong and how we can improve," he said.
Blacks have been training in Christchurch since Saturday, on a goodwill
tour to the stricken city which had to give up its seven World Cup
They will return to Auckland on Wednesday and the squad to play France will be named the following day.
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