French want to put sand in gearbox

Photosport     03 Oct 2007     Photosport

"Throwing some sand into the gearbox," was how French captain Raphael Ibanez summed his side's need to knock back what was perceived New Zealand confidence.

"When that happens, their beliefs can turn into doubts," he said.

Ibanez wasn't prepared to follow what has become a French connection with the grandeur of the 1999 semi-final when France came back from the dead to knock the All Blacks out of the final.

"You have to stop looking back into the past. Each match is different. We're looking to the future and that involves playing the All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff," he said.

New Zealand was a side with world-class players in several positions, he said. That would make France's job harder.

Ibanez didn't think the fact New Zealand had an easier pool would be an issue.

"They didn't choose the pools, they played the way they had to play. They scored a lot of tries and were impressive," he said.

French coach Bernard Laporte warned: "A match of rugby is never won or lost until you've played it - and believe me, we're really going to play this match.

"We're neither worried, nor resigned to our fate," he said.

Since the opening round loss to Argentina the side had pulled together and he now sensed a great motivation and a great determination among his players.

In the side's build-up, analysis will be done of the two Test matches against the All Blacks at Lyon and Paris last year, and the Tri Nations games against Australia and South Africa this year.

"We are going to try to detect the cracks. After all, they're not supermen. They've got flaws," he said.