Despite a series of injuries in the run-up to the World Cup, Olivier Magne, a former rugby player for France’s national team, believes that the Roosters will have hopelessly too much ammunition for the All Blacks.
The French play in the opening match of the rugby spectacle against the New Zealanders in Paris on Friday.
The 50-year-old Magne was a member of the victorious French rugby team that beat the All Blacks 43-31 in the semi-final of the 1999 World Cup at Twickenham.
“Is this All Blacks squad the worst ever? This is a very good question. I think New Zealand’s Rugby Championship success may not be a true reflection of their abilities,” he said in a column for Midi Olympique writing.
According to the former loose forward, the Springboks’ great performance against the Kiwis at Twickenham opened the rest of the world’s eyes: New Zealand can be beaten when they are put under pressure.
“In fact, I believe that France, Ireland and South Africa are the top three teams for the World Cup.”
He referred to France’s 47–17 win against the Wallabies in their final warm-up game and predicted trouble for the All Blacks.
“France can fire on all pistons for more than 80 minutes and the team’s impact players can play with the same fiery attitude as the starting team. Add to that their determination to do well and the opening game could turn into a difficult affair for the All Blacks.”
In addition, the Roosters also reigned supreme in the two teams’ last meeting – an Antoine Dupont masterclass saw to it that the All Blacks went down 40-25.
Speaking of Dupont: Contrary to Magne’s comments, the mercurial scrum-half believes that the New Zealanders are always formidable opponents.
“It is true that the All Blacks lost a warm-up match against South Africa, but before that showdown they won a series of Tests in a row,” warned the French captain.
However, he promised at the same time that the home team will throw everything into the battle to walk off the field victorious on Friday night.
“The opening game is very important; not only to get our engine running, but also to ensure that we enjoy the necessary support during the tournament.”