Barrett, Crotty ready for contest with French backs

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Lynn McConnell     25 Nov 2016     Getty Images

He was questioned about whether he and second five-eighths Ryan Crotty wanted to do especially well in this Test in order to be at the front of the queue for consideration for next year's series against the British and Irish Lions.

Barrett said as far as he was concerned his only thoughts were on Saturday and France's challenge because any time you wore the All Blacks jersey you didn't want to let it down, you just wanted to do yourself proud and play good rugby and that was where his head was at.

Barrett said it was good to be reunited with Ryan Crotty, who was back after suffering a hamstring injury against Ireland in Chicago. He brought a lot of chat on the field and one of his huge strengths was understanding the game and being eyes for Barrett.

"I rely heavily on my 12 [second five-eighths] and I'm pretty happy to have him back," he said.

Crotty said he couldn't wait to be back. Last week's Test against Ireland had been a big one for the side and it had been stressful watching on so he was grateful for the opportunity to play against France because it was another of those big Test matches players wanted to be part of.

"When you come up north you face different opposition and a different style of rugby and we've seen that with Italy and Ireland respectively. It's good for us with what's around the corner," Barrett said.

The French backline was strong and they threw everything at their attack and the All Blacks would have to be ready, he said.

Crotty said the All Blacks had studied the recent French games but there was always the problem of their unpredictability.

"They're an exciting side with a lot of athletes in their team so you've got to be ready for that. Expect the unexpected you always say when you come up against these guys and they are big and fast across the park so our defensive systems are going to have to be pretty sharp on Saturday," he said.

Crotty's own opposite Wesley Fofana was a particular threat as a ball carrier and as a distributor so he realised his defensive alignment would need to be spot on against him to try and take his space away.

"He's good when he's got time on the ball as most mid-fielders are but taking his time and space away can make it a bit more difficult for him," he said.