All Blacks work hard to prise open French defence

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Lynn McConnell     14 Jun 2018     Getty Images

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said that it had taken the All Blacks a while to work out they had to go through them rather than try to go round the French defensive line.


"We've worked at ways we can do that and looked at ways we can better identify opportunities that are given to us and looked at ways we can defend better than we did at times," he said.

Given the unusual luxury of being able to name an unchanged side Hansen said it was normal in the June window to not make too many changes.

"We're trying to build who we are and bring together a group of five teams into one and again look at our game and try and build that. To do those things and change the team doesn't make it easy so we've decided to go with the same group," he said.

The French would feel they had been hard done by with the issuing of the yellow card at the 50-minute mark in the first Test in Auckland and would feel they had been in the game until that point.

That would ensure they go into the second Test thinking they had plenty to play for.

Hansen said the tackle issues from the first Test had been well discussed and he was on record with his comments but he added an analogy he had been given earlier in the day when as a driver you were heading along the road at the speed limit and a child ran out onto the road in front of you.

Was that the child's fault or your fault? he asked.
"In our game things are fluid and they change and you can't stop something that you've committed to and someone's angle changes. We have to accept that there is going to be some head knocks and in saying that we have to make sure we don't do the dumb ones and get them out of our game," he said.

The French players who missed the first Test due to playing in their club final would add extra energy and excitement to the second Test side. And the All Blacks would be wary of how France approached the game.

"They've got a unique style when they play the French way. They'll run the ball at you from anywhere. I know from the days playing there myself that everybody was a ball player. It's one of the unique things about the French, they've got men who can run with the ball.

"I don't think that's changed but perhaps they've gone through a period where they've tried to be a little more structured and I'm not sure if that suits their game or not," he said.

France would try to slow the game down to the pace they wanted to play at while the All Blacks wanted to play at full bore with accuracy.

"That's our challenge and if it comes off it doesn't matter who you play, when you play that game well you can rip anyone apart. If you don't have accuracy with it though you can get beaten too and that's happened to us in the past," he said.