French players talk of respect for NZ players

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    09 Nov 2017     Getty Images

Twenty-one former All Blacks are involved in the French Top 14 league this season and 41 New Zealanders involved in total.

Belleau, 21, told, "They have an approach to the sport that is different from us.

"We do not play the same rugby. We have the impression that they have mastered all aspects of the game. We feel they all have the same philosophy with all the same benchmarks.

"They give the impression of being able to play a match without exchanging a word because they understand rugby. You really have to live it to understand it," he said.

Bastareaud has played alongside Luke McAlister, Malakai Fekitoa and Ma'a Nonu.

"I've tried to observe what makes them so special. In preparing, Ma'a is someone who is very, very calm. In games some players feel the pressure but Ma'a knows how to stay calm.

"New Zealanders have this serenity, this quiet force, that allows them to be very lucid during a match," he said.

Bastareaud said New Zealanders had a real attention to detail and were very picky.

"When working skills with Ma'a we will not do 100 kicks. We will only do 10, but those 10 must be perfect. It's the same with assists. It's not a question of doing it 40 times, but if you do 10, you have to have your hands well aligned. That's what struck me the most," he said.

One of the qualities that kept the New Zealanders ahead of others was their ability to read the game before everyone else, while they also could visualise all possible situations during a game.

Belleau said: "At a glance, they immediately see a loophole where no one would have thought to play.

"They have the ability to find solutions in a fraction of a second by relying on their highly developed individual technique.

"It's really impressive to see, but you can learn a lot about how you can improve your own game," he said.