All Blacks ready for hostile reception at Stade de France

Finlay v2

Second five-eighths David Havili said with the anticipated noise from a sell-out crowd of 80,000 communication was key and knowing signals was important to ensure messages could be shared onfield.

"The crowds are different here. If you guys [media in Lyon] are UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fans, just a couple of days ago the UFC was huge. They were loud, they were cheering, singing, and they bring that same sort of vibe into the rugby arena and it's awesome to be part of."

Havili said they knew the game would be a great challenge but they were putting their foundations in place and he was confident they were ready.

After injury frustrations over the past two seasons, the reality of having a chance to play in a World Cup was starting to sink in.

"I am just preparing to play and, if I get that opportunity, the smile on my face will be huge."

Meanwhile, All Blacks halfback Finlay Christie said he was looking forward to seeing the contest between Aaron Smith and French inspiration Antoine Dupont.

"I'd say if you could put them both into one, [the resulting player] would probably be the best of all time.

"Aaron has built his game off passing which all nines [halfbacks] have to be good at. Then you've got Dupont who has that other x-factor of awesome running and kicking game and he can pull these plays out of nowhere.

"They are both world-class players. What a spectacle it is going to be to see them going head-to-head."

The 2023 Rugby World Cup kicks off when the All Blacks face hosts France at Stade de France on Saturday September 9 at 7.15am NZT (Friday 8 September, 8pm CEST). 

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