But the game was an arm wrestle contested in an unfamiliar atmosphere, even at home.
"We didn't expect this atmosphere. It was very tense, even in the stands. We're not used to this kind of atmosphere."
He felt his side got caught up by that, but going in at halftime 9-8 up had been an advantage.
"Then, in the second half, our finishers enabled us to regain control of the match, but not immediately. Again, they scored from our mistakes when we could have done better.
"But we won the arm-wrestle. That enabled us to keep in touch with New Zealand, particularly in our weaker moments and then meant we regained control of the second half and also meant Thomas Ramos could keep us in touch with his kicking.
"It's a heavy score in our favour."
"Playing in 30-degree temperatures in a stadium like the Stade de France, where there's not much air, it's not easy. We felt it as soon as we warmed up: you sweat a lot, you feel a bit heavier, it's harder to accelerate. We saw a few players suffering from cramp. But the conditions were the same for both teams."
France No8 and Player of the Match Gregory Alldritt said: "It was a really, really tough game. We were expecting really hard opposition, and it was a massive game for the team, and I'm proud to be French tonight.
"I said before the game the one who was going to win was the one who was going to play for 80 minutes, and I think we played well for 80 minutes. It's a great night for us."
Captain and halfback Antoine Dupont said, "It was an up-and-down game. We had trouble getting into it because of the pressure of the opening match at home. The All Blacks put us under a lot of pressure at the rucks. We stayed calm, worked hard throughout the match and, above all, finished well.