New Zealand

All Blacks should expect 'bold' French

Mon, 04 Nov 2013 08:59
Philippe-saint-andre-looks Philippe-saint-andre-france Philippe-saint-andre-looks
We are going to be positive
Quote-end

France should throw caution to the wind when they play world champions New Zealand in their one-off Test match next Saturday, said French coach Philippe Saint-Andre.

The 46-year-old - whose record since he took over the job at the beginning of 2012 is a modest seven wins, two draws and nine defeats - added his side could defy the statistics and inflict only the second defeat on the All Blacks in their last 31 tests.

The All Blacks - who only beat the French 8-7 in the 2011 World Cup final - go into the game with a record in their last 30 tests of 28 victories, one defeat and one draw.

"Having only just got the players back after their Top 14 matches we have to let them recuperate a bit," said Saint-Andre, whose side lost 3-0 on their June tour of New Zealand.

"We won't have many training sessions together so we have to be as organised as possible, have the players as fresh as possible.

"And then on Saturday, the heat is on! It is imperative we throw caution to the wind, play with a lot of aggression, be ultra-disciplined and be as bold as possible.

"We are going to be positive, and go for broke during the 80 minutes.

"We don't go along with the statistics. The All Blacks, in the last 30 matches have won 28, drawn one and lost one but we need to show that sometimes statistics are worthless."

Saint-Andre, who made his name as a coach initially at English side Gloucester before spells at Bourgoin, back to England with Sale and then Toulon, said this November's tests would serve to help measure where France was in comparison to the southern hemisphere.

"We want to progress from what we were able to do in New Zealand," said the former international wing, who was capped 69 times and captained France on 34 occasions.

"The tests last November yielded positive results for us. Beating Australia and Argentina was pretty good already [they also beat Samoa], and this time round we are playing teams who are a level up from those [they also play Tonga who beat them in a pool match in the 2011 World Cup in Le Havre on November 16 and round it off with a match against South Africa in Paris a week later] and this is just what we want to compare ourselves and where we are against these types of teams.

"We are often good in November because the guys still have a lot of energy. These are exceptional Tests, a bonus for us and makes us happy to contest them.

"There are lots of people who criticise me for not being able to build a solid backbone to the team, that is hooker, No8, halfbacks and fullback.

"Well our first choice No.8 [Louis] Picamoles is injured, the scrum-half Maxime Machenaud [hand] is injured, our fly-half Frederic Michalak has just returned from a long-term injury (shoulder), and our first choice fullback Brice Dulin is also returning from injury (knee)...we make do with the means at our disposal and we try and make them perform accordingly."

AFP

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