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France keen to show improved side

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    23 Nov 2016     Getty Images

Prop Xavier Chiocci will be playing his first game against New Zealand and said there would be some apprehension as the game got close.

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"When you're little, you see the All Blacks, you know this is the best team in the world. But I never thought I would play against them, so it is cool," he told rugbyrama.fr.

The French were aware they would need a perfect performance.

No.8 Damien Chouly said: "We'll have to play as a team, defend as a team and not let up. They apply huge pressure in the way they play their game and we will have to put a lot of energy into this battle.

"We know we cannot crack mentally. This week all workouts will count twice. And on Saturday we will have to think of only one thing, run, run and work for the team."

A win against the world champion All Blacks would be a good step forward for France, he said.

"Today we take pleasure in our game. It is reflecting the system and we are better offensively. There is more certainty and we must continue in this direction. We can't stop the flow and play within ourselves, if we do we will certainly lose," he said.
New Caledonian-born lock Sebastien Vahaamahina didn't play in the quarter-final last year but said there was a desire to put that behind them and to give the All Blacks an 80-minute contest. France would be looking to go one better than they did against Australia at the weekend.

France was now a better side than last year, he said.

"For some who have played the quarter-final, there is a small feeling of revenge to show that we can compete with them. There has to be a matter of honour.

"I talked with some people, they want to find those players they faced during the World Cup and show them," he said.

"They are still one of the best teams in the world in attack. We really need our best quality in defence and to improve in the areas that failed us against Australia.

"We know that the All Blacks are highly explosive and that is where we will challenge them," he said.

They were also conscious of not focusing too much on a player like Julian Savea who had been their destroyer at the World Cup. The All Blacks had powerful players all across the field and if they could stop them that would prevent the ball getting to Savea, he said.

A win over the All Blacks would be a boost for France, not only for their method but also for their confidence.

"We need to show the public that we have the ability to beat them. The French team is built little by little. In a few months it will be much better," he said.