France will be a different beast in the quarter-final clash against the All Blacks compared to the team which has limped through the tournament so far.
So says a man who knows plenty about big games against France – Sir Graham Henry.
Henry’s All Blacks crushed France in pool play during the 2011 tournament, but were taken to the limit in a gripping, low-scoring final at Eden Park. And his heavily-favoured 2007 team suffered a quarter-final defeat to the French in Cardiff.
Writing in the Guardian, Henry said France looked “uninterested” in losing to Ireland in Cardiff on Monday.
Henry wrote: “(France) barely threatened all evening, but wait until Saturday when all their guns will be blazing in a repeat of the quarter-final of 2007, when the All Blacks lost to Les Bleus at the Millennium Stadium.
“This will put a shudder through New Zealand but I’m sure the All Blacks would not wish for any other scenario in what I hope will be a another game of contrasts.”
Henry’s column called on international sides to stop mimicking the All Blacks and instead treasure developing different styles based on their particular resources, as occurred in the past.
“To me, one of the clear disappointments of modern rugby is that in the main we have lost our innovation. There are a number of different ways and styles to play, but in the main it is derivative even though it probably doesn’t suit the DNA of players or the development environment they grow up in.”