Whitewash won't come easy
Sportal.co.nz 21 Jun 2013 Getty Images
Top performer, No 8 Louis Picamoles, and veteran pivot Frederic Michalak are at home nursing injuries while coach Phillipe Saint-Andre has stripped his already inexperienced side of over 60 Test caps with a further four changes to the starting XV.
To make life more difficult, world class play-maker Dan Carter will now orchestrate the attack that blasted the visitors 30-0 in Christchurch last week.
Unfortunately for New Zealand history is full of lessons that Le Tricolours are at their best when the odds are stacked against them.
With the Dave Gallaher trophy already locked away in the All Blacks' trophy cabinet, Saint-Andre believes his side will feel a lot less pressure, allowing them to take more risks and 'have a go' at snatching a consolation Test win on tour.
"It's the last game of the season, last week of the season, last training of the season so we really want to make all these minutes count and really try to come out with a performance which we can be really proud of," said Saint-Andre.
While pride may be the only thing on the line for France at Yarrow Stadium, an upset would derail New Zealand's plans to gain momentum before defending the Rugby Championship title in August.
It would also deny All Blacks coach Steve Hansen a chance to blood some of his newest talents - Steven Luatua, Charles Piutau and Matt Todd - from the bench.
At AMI Stadium the All Blacks displayed a superior kicking game, but Hansen is aware that a changes in the French back three will alter the space that is available.
With 12 caps between them wing Brice Dulin and fullback Marc Andreu will have their sights set on limiting the opportunities that Aaron Cruden and Israel Dagg used to pin France in their own half of the field.
"It's all about space. I think you've got to go forward and find the space. You need to find it by running into it, passing the ball into it or kicking into it. It's just about continuing to do that well," said Hansen.
"I don't think they'll give us the backfield as easily as they did last time. So DC [Dan Carter] and Ma'a [Nonu] and our back three will have to work a bit harder."
While the heavy workload of Sam Cane may see Todd awarded with a decent amount of game time Hansen admitted his side will have to be doing 'pretty well' in order for Luatua and Piutau to be thrust into battle.
"You can't just chuck them all in at once, you've got to win Test matches, that's the expectations and rightly so," he said.
"If we can intricate our kicking and running game, and take the right options at the right time I'll be really pleased.
"We've got more work to do at the breakdown. It's certainly a different interpretation ... by the Northern Hemisphere referees and we've just got to adapt to that.
"Our scrum and lineout; we just want to see that whole game get better."
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