Rugby World Cup 2011: New Zealand vs France Preview
The All Blacks' third match of Rugby World Cup 2011 this Saturday night against France will easily be their biggest test so far in what is expected to be another sell out at the fortress that is Eden Park.
The much anticipated Pool A battle pits New Zealand against their World Cup bogey side. France famously knocked New Zealand out of both the 1999 and 2007 World Cups and are also the last test team to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park—way back in 1994.
The match will be 'take two' for the 100th test of captain Richie McCaw. The 30-year-old was set to reach the milestone last week against Japan before he pulled out late in the week with a minor injury.
Dan Carter is also back from injury to run the show from first five while Sonny Bill Williams is again named on the bench and will likely get more time to impress as a utility option.
Richard Kahui appears to now be the first choice winger and will start for the third match in a row and he is joined by Cory Jane who gets another shot after only 50 minutes against Japan where he saw very little ball.
But the most notable selection changes are Piri Weepu getting the nod at halfback and Israel Dagg claiming the fullback spot over 98-test veteran Mils Muliaina. It now looks likely that the Japan-bound Muliaina will miss out on joining McCaw in the 100-test club.
Meanwhile France have sprung a major selection surprise by naming regular halfback Morgan Parra to start his first ever test at first five in place of Francois Trinh-Duc.
It is a brave move from French coach Marc Lièvremont as Trinh-Duc has been his first choice pivot for the last three years—the same amount of time since Parra has started a game in the position at any level.
Trinh-Duc has been dropped to the bench and Lièvremont will be hoping it serves as a wake up call for the 24-year-old after his lacklustre form in France's first two games.
However Parra is regarded as a hugely talented and versatile player and had an encouraging cameo off the bench at first five against Canada. How he responds to a full start in the position against the All Blacks though, marking up against the world's best in Carter, will be a key aspect to how the match unfolds.
In other significant selection changes for France loose forward Thierry Dusautoir returns to captain the team and Aurélien Rougerie moves back from the wing into the centres.
New Zealand should have too much for a French team that is still tinkering with its combinations while the All Blacks, finally with a more settled looking lineup, will want to put in another impressive performance to keep the rugby-mad public happy for another week.
Prediction: 35-15 to New Zealand.
New Zealand: Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (c), Adam Thomson, Piri Weepu, Daniel Carter, Richard Kahui, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Cory Jane, Israel Dagg. Replacements: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Anthony Boric, Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Sonny Bill Williams.
France: Jean-Baptiste Poux, Dimitri Szarzewski, Luc Ducalcon, Pascal Pape, Lionel Nallet, Thierry Dusautoir (c), Julien Bonnaire, Louis Picamoles, Dimitri Yachvili, Morgan Parra, Maxime Médard, Maxime Mermoz, Aurélien Rougerie, Vincent Clerc, Damien Traille. Replacements: William Servat, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Imanol Harinordoquy, Francois Trinh-Duc, Fabrice Estebanez, Cédric Heymans.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?