France is building a team of great depth - Foster

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Foster said after New Zealand and France were drawn in the same pool, along with Italy, and qualifiers from the American and African zones, it was to be hoped all sides could have full schedules to put plans in place for the tournament.


There would be some who felt having to play France at home would be tough, especially with a team on the up. But Foster said there was also the chance to put a marker down in such a game.


"We have seen before that finalists can come out of the same pool. Whoever you play is going to be tough and if you play a team like France in a pool, and if you're fortunate enough to qualify for the quarters, it means you're not playing them in that first knock-out game which can actually be an advantage the other way," he said.


An added factor for the French would be avoiding the first game loss they suffered when they last hosted the World Cup in 2007. Beaten by Argentina in that game, they recovered to beat the All Blacks in their quarterfinal in Cardiff. They then lost to England in their semifinal and were beaten by Argentina again in the playoff for third.

"It's a huge challenge," Foster said.

"You can see that France are building a team of great depth. You can see that all their planning is around 2023. We'll be expecting a vibrant French team in a country that love their rugby. We know they'll have massive support behind them.


"But that's what makes World Cups so special, those sort of games, and they're games that we thrive on and look forward to. You know that if you're not at your best, you're going to struggle.


"To play France in France, at their World Cup, is something we can look forward to greatly in the next two or three years," he said.


Looking at the pools drawn on Monday, Foster said it was going to be an exciting tournament.


It didn't matter whether you thought you had was an ideal draw or not, the reality was that everyone gave their best, and that meant there were always surprises.


The key thing for New Zealand was there was one thing they could control was how they prepared.


"Regardless of who we play we know we've got to be at our best and you look through all those pools and it is going to be an immensely exciting tournament. There's going to be no easy game there but now we've got some certainty and we can start planning," he said.


That would involve building the type of game they wanted to play with the playing resources they had, he said.


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