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All Blacks warn against taking France lightly

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All Black bosses have warned against their team being complacent when they face France and Italy in their upcoming June internationals.


The All Blacks will play their first test of 2009 on June the 13th at Carisbrook against France.


The match will be the first time the two sides will have met since France knocked the All Blacks out of the 2007 Rugby World cup beating them 20-18 in the quarter-finals.


The All Blacks are overwhelming favourites for the clash due to the timing of the match.

 

The French Top 14 final will be played six days before the opening test and coach Marc Lievremont has confirmed no players involved in that match will play in the first fixture against the men in black.

Lievremont has however promised that he will select a full-strength team in the second test at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.


All Black forwards coach Steve Hansen says that despite the French not being able to field a full strength team they should still be able to field a world-class side.


He also pointed out that recent history showed writing off France would be a massive error.


“The French are a good side; there is never a poor side,” Hansen told Yahoo!Xtra.


“And history tells us on many occasions, where we have had great battles and we have come out on top on a few, and we have lost some too.


“And a couple of them are pretty important ones that we all know about.


“So they won’t be any different this year.”


Once the All Blacks have completed the two test series against the French they will host Italy in a one-off fixture in Christchurch.


Italy has lost their last nine tests in succession but came close to beating the Wallabies on their tour to Rome last year. Eventually Italy lost 30-20 but the Australians did get a scare.


“Italy is a side that a lot of people underestimate how good they are,” Hansen said.


“They always cause sufficient amount of trouble in the Six Nations to some of the bigger sides.


“So you have to respect them and make sure you do the basics.”


Head coach Graham Henry added: “We are looking forward to the games in Dunedin and Wellington against the French and in Christchurch against the Italians.


“They have picked their best teams.


“They will have strong sides.


“There is a wee bit of history with the French, as you know. And it will be good to play them again.


“We are looking forward to that and they will be particularly strong.”


With Richie McCaw being ruled out injured Mils Muliaina will take over the All Black captaincy and the squad also includes three new caps in Tanerau Latimer, Isaac Ross and Wyatt Crockett.


Muliaina was captain of the Chiefs in Saturday’s Super 14 final against the Bulls and even though the Chiefs were comprehensively outplayed Henry says that the form of the players in the final did not play a part in selections.


“Nothing has changed,” Henry said.


“I am just pleased that the guys got through it really.


“There is a balance between pretty experienced All Blacks and newer All Blacks in the squad.”

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