In contrast to Olivier Magne’s All Blacks criticism – after all, the former player believes that the New Zealanders are completely out of it – the French rugby team believes that the three-time World Champions are still formidable opponents.
Tough, but not invincible.
The French play in the opening game of the World Cup tournament against the Kiwis in Paris on Friday and although it may turn into a scrub and scramble at the Stade de France, the Roosters’ mission is simple: Kick up dust against the All Blacks.
After all, a good performance against Ian Foster’s team is very important for the host country’s World Cup campaign; not only to get their engine running, but also to enjoy the necessary support during the tournament.
“We definitely believe that we are good enough to deal with the All Blacks. If we didn’t believe that, we shouldn’t have been here (part of the national rugby setup). Just like any other team, we know that on match day we have enough firepower to beat our opponents,” Vlok Cilliers told RNews.
The former Springbok player is France’s kicking coach these days and he also believes that rugby fans should stop writing the New Zealanders off.
“They remain a top team with very good players, while they have also won a number of cups. Players like Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith can provide the necessary spark, but we focus on the whole team as a whole, because that is where they are dangerous.”
The All Blacks don’t just lose a World Cup group game – not even after 31 tries – but at the same time, France knows what it feels like to beat the Kiwis in a knockout game.
France finished with the New Zealanders in the semi-finals of the 1999 tournament, while they also won their quarter-final encounter in 2007.
In addition, the Bucks also came up with a master plan at Twickenham to overwhelm the All Blacks.
Are the French now going to look down on the South Africans, or are they going to stick to their own winning recipe to tame the Kiwis?
“Just like any other game we do our own analysis beforehand, but we certainly watched the Twickenham showdown with the rest of the world,” Cilliers admitted.
Romain Ntamack and Paul Willemse will have to follow the World Cup action from the sidelines, while Jonathan Danty’s fitness for the opening match is still being debated. Still, the 55-year-old kicking guru reckons that the Roosters’ contingency plans are sure to hit.
“We have enough depth. We have been making plans for the past four years and regularly hold discussions to overcome such an obstacle.”
According to Cilliers, the turning point for the French came after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
“The team then got together and touched on things like discipline and consistency. For example, they cannot afford to face the All Blacks one week and face Canada the next. This team has played together in two Under-20 World Cup tournaments and they are the new generation of French rugby players. .”