France will also have selection headaches ahead of All Blacks Test

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Just as the All Blacks looked to make the best of two outstanding first five-eighths, Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga, by developing a two-pronged game, France has been attempting to make use of their skilled five-eighths.

 

Romain Ntamack and Matthieu Jalibert have been paired in the five-eighths without quite finding their combination.

 

It is providing plenty of comment in French rugby circles.

 

Centre Gaël Fickou said: "Having two players like them on the pitch is a weapon. We saw it against Georgia, they were formidable. They both brought their qualities and their brilliance. They have done us good."

 

But Christophe Urios, who coaches Jalibert for Bordeaux-Bègles in the Top 14, was not as supportive of the tactic.

 

He said France's selectors were looking to have two players able to manage the game while also having high quality passing on both sides of the pack and good kicking and continuity.

 

However, he said he had never used that kind of approach and didn't like it, but that was not to say it wouldn't work.

 

 

Urios has long been fascinated by New Zealand rugby and has adopted the All Blacks' mantra 'Being better never stops'.

 

It all started for him when former All Blacks centre Frank Bunce played for Castres in 1997-98. When Bunce told him the difference between French players and New Zealanders was that the Frenchman needed to have fun during the week to work at the weekend, while the New Zealander needed to work during the week to have fun at the weekend.

 

"He was right. From that moment, I developed a passion for these guys. I read a lot about what they were doing," he said.

 

Having played with former All Blacks captain Gary Whetton at Castres in 1992-94 and then coaching New Zealanders, he always found them a little different.

 

"I like there way of approaching rugby. They are the best players in the world," he told rugbyrama.fr.

 

"They are very well prepared. They leave nothing to chance, starting with their state of mind and the haka, this way of thinking about ancestors. It is fundamental to their approach.

 

"They have a very clear code of conduct: they can do without the best players if they do no fall within the team framework," he said.

 

Urios said Saturday's loss to Ireland surprised him because he had rarely seen the All Blacks quite so shaken.

 

He wondered if they were feeling the physical effects of having been on the road since the end of August. Were they worn out?

 

The question he was looking forward to seeing answered from the weekend's Test in Paris was whether France could put them under pressure for 80 minutes?

 

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