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McCaw says gap not that wide to France

Photosport

Sportal.co.nz     03 Oct 2007     Photosport

Since the startling 45-6 win over France in 2004, New Zealand has had winning margins of 47-3 (2006-1), 23-11 (2006-2), 42-11 (2007-1) and 61-10 (2007-2) over France.

All of the games had been physical encounters, McCaw said, and to get the results, the All Blacks had to do things right. They had managed that but none of the wins had been easily achieved and the gap was not as big as some might expect.

The important thing for the All Blacks would be to contain France's ability to grow its confidence to unleash the sort of flair-based play that could undo the best sides.

"We have to try and not allow them the scope to use the ball," he said.

"We respect the skill they've got and their ability to use the ball. We always expect the unexpected, and when that happens you have to rely on your systems," he said.

That ability to counter the unexpected was achieved by doing analysis but the key was not to over-analyse and to work more on those systems to cope with whatever sides may throw at the All Blacks.

While there was a constant barrage of questions about events of 1999 and 2003 that conspired to deny the All Blacks their chance of the Cup, McCaw said the side had been through a lot of rugby experiences since then.

"We have to have faith in what we have done in the last couple of years. We have been getting better and better, and will hopefully be better on Saturday," he said.

The side would prepare in similar style to previous weeks for the game but would not be over-doing it.

"The French are going to be desperate and we've got to be just as desperate, and passionate," he said.