French scrum poses a threat
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: All Blacks captain Kieran Read says they go into their final "massive" match of a long season at the Stade de France on Saturday alive to the threat posed by the French scrum.
The sides meet for the first time since the 2015 World Cup in Cardiff when New Zealand ran riot, thumping France 62-13.
That lopsided result was furthest from Read's thoughts as he assessed the challenge ahead at on the eve of the match.
"We've spoken about the traditions of the All Blacks against France, so we know it's going to be a massive game tomorrow.
"The guys are really excited. A lot of the guys in our group haven't been to Paris before, haven't played the French, so we've got a bunch of young men pretty excited about the challenge. And we've got guys experienced enough to know how tough the French are and the fact that we really have to turn up and play.
"We know that every time we play France the emphasis on their scrum is huge, so we're just going to have to get our attitude right as a whole. We can't go as individuals against a scrum like France's, so we're all going to be hands to the pump and do the best we can," Read said.
Read and his men have rebounded after the historic first-ever loss to Ireland in Chicago. Since then the world champions have gained revenge on the Irish with a 21-9 victory in Dublin last weekend.
And with 43 wins in 56 previous encounters with France dating back to 1906, the All Blacks have, as an incentive, their record of points and tries scored in a calendar year potentially within their grasp.
They have scored 538 points and 77 tries so far, trailing their best of 602 points and 81 tries in 2003 and 594 points and 80 tries in 2007.
Read says his team are emotionally ready for this final test of 2016.
"If you get the mental side right, generally it shows throughout our performance. It's always a tricky one this last week, traditionally its been pretty tough for us. But we can see a performance, see excitement from the lads. I'm sure it's going to be a positive for us on Saturday," he added.