June International Tours

France to field stronger line up for 2nd NZ test


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France Sunday celebrated a rare Test win in New Zealand knowing they can field an even stronger line-up in their next match while the All Blacks face further injury woes.

The visiting French scored three tries to two in Saturday’s 27-22 victory over an inexperienced All Blacks outfit at the Carisbrook ground for only their fourth win in 22 starts on New Zealand soil.

They now head to Wellington for next Saturday’s second Test and the chance to become only the second French side to win a Test series in New Zealand after the 1994 team.

In contrast to the player changes forced on the All Blacks, French coach Marc Lievremont has a late-arriving contingent of players from Perpignan and Clermont, who contested the recent Top 14 final in France, to bolster his squad.

But following Saturday’s win, Lievremont was offering no clues on whether he would change his winning line-up.

“We’ll see what some players can bring to the team and we’ll have to have a strategy between the two games. Everything’s possible,” he said.

And he warned the All Blacks that a series victory meant more than a one-off win.

“I don’t want to be a coach who wins a game from time to time and falls back into mediocrity. We want to raise our level of expectation.”


In sharp contrast, the All Blacks’ injury toll rose with Adam Thomson definitely out of the second Test and Andrew Hore doubtful, forcing further promotions from the home side’s ranks of uncapped players.

The French dominance was greater than the scoreline suggests and exposed an acute lack of depth in New Zealand rugby created in part by the growing number of fringe internationals chasing lucrative contracts offshore.

Ten senior players missed the first Test because of injury and their ranks increased with the addition of Thomson and possibly Hore.

Flanker Thomson will be out for six weeks after he broke a bone in his hand, while Hore, who suffered rib cartilage damage, is “touch and go,” according to assistant coach Steve Hansen.

Two more uncapped players, Crusaders flanker George Whitelock and Chiefs hooker Aled de Malmanche, have been called into the squad.

The absence of veterans including Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ali Williams, and the rawness of their understudies showed as the All Blacks were out-muscled and outwitted as well as being confronted by a dogged defensive line.

But Hansen refused to use the injury count as an excuse.

“That’s just the nature of the beast. We can’t use that as an excuse, we just have to soldier on and do the best we can,” he said.

“There are some things we can do a lot better that will make us perform a lot better and that’s got nothing to do with injuries.”

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