Too much history between France and New Zealand ensured the All Blacks could not be over-confident going into Saturday’s Test in Paris.
That’s the word from All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino who said there has been a lot of disappointment for the world champions in previous games with France and they are aware of the dangers in this match against an improving France team.
While the All Blacks were preparing as they always did, they were also putting one foot in the French camp by understanding how they would feel in their first game against New Zealand since last year’s World Cup quarter-final rout in Cardiff.
France had changed the shape of their loose forwards. Usually they would have a fetcher and a big focus on the breakdown and while there was attention in that area there was now more interest in ball-carrying players and those players had played a big part in France’s attack with the ball in hand.
“France have selected a big team and they will be looking to get the ball into their big ball carriers’ hands as much as possible,” Kaino told the All Blacks’ official website.
While there were some battered bodies after last weekend’s win over Ireland in Dublin, both he and Matt Todd, the openside flanker, had not played and would be fresh to lead that charge but Kaino was also confident that by kick-off the whole side would be ready for their final challenge of the year.
Scrum-half TJ Perenara, who will start the Test, said having started in Super Rugby and more often, this year, in Test rugby he was feeling more comfortable in that role which was different and required more thinking on the run as the game evolved, rather than coming on as a sub with an appreciation of how play was going.
Kaino said he was proud of the way the team had carried the torch after losing all their experience after the Rugby World Cup.
“I take my hat off to the coaching staff who did a lot of planning during the season. Us players were aware of it but all we had to do was come in with the right attitude to be able to take that challenge on,” he added.
“The guys returning from last year, but also the new guys who have been injected into the squad have all added to that and it’s been a really enjoyable season. But this is only one year. We’ve got to continue that next year as well if we’re lucky enough to be selected. It’s a great challenge and an exciting time. It’s not just a one-off, it’s a continuing thing.”