All you need to know: All Blacks v France

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 20 Nov 2021, 10:30PM
Could the return of Aaron Smith spark the All Blacks to a bounce-back victory? (Photo / Photosport)
Could the return of Aaron Smith spark the All Blacks to a bounce-back victory? (Photo / Photosport)

All you need to know: All Blacks v France

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 20 Nov 2021, 10:30PM

All you need to know ahead of the All Blacks' clash against France at Stade de France in Paris, kickoff on Sunday at 9am:

France must withstand the fury of a wounded New Zealand when they meet in their last rugby test of the year on Sunday, two years before facing off at the same venue in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup.

Sunday morning's showdown at Stade de France will either shake the self-belief of Fabien Galthie's resurgent side or condemn the All Blacks to a rare second-straight loss after last weekend's 29-20 defeat in Ireland.

"These boys are a very proud bunch, and they love this jersey more than anything," New Zealand assistant coach John Plumtree said. "When they feel that perhaps they've let it down it upsets them, and that will turn to hurt and anger. The best way to channel all that is to use it as fuel for the game."

All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick didn't want to face mandatory seven-day quarantine on their return to New Zealand on Monday with another defeat to stew over.

"We need to finish this week with a win," he told Sky Sport. "It's going to be pretty tough sitting in quarantine if we don't get the job done."

After the intensity of Ireland in a typically charged-up Lansdowne Road, the All Blacks reacted to their blown game plan by recalling veterans Aaron Smith, Dane Coles and former captain Sam Cane.

Seven changes were made, although two were forced by injuries to Beauden Barrett (concussion) and Anton Lienert-Brown (shoulder).

"It's a big statement game for us, and we know we have to respond," All Blacks coach Ian Foster said. "(We) have changed things up a bit for this final test to maximise the energy within the whole group."

Smith starts his 102nd test with backup from Brad Weber, Coles displaces Codie Taylor at hooker, and Cane and Akira Ioane are the fresh flankers.

Galthie's side is after its own statement win after beating Argentina and modest Georgia.

He's returned Romain Ntamack to first five after playing him outside Matthieu Jalibert in dual playmaker roles in those games.

"It's a question of performance and collective experience, rather than a default choice," Galthie said. "We decided after these two matches and a dozen training sessions, to change by moving up Romain to No. 10. Antoine Dupont has a lot of experience alongside Ntamack."

Romain Ntamack will be a key player for France on Sunday. Photo / Photosport

Ntamack created one of France's tries in last weekend's 41-15 over Georgia, and Galthie dropped Jalibert to the bench and restored Ntamack to where he made his name at the Rugby World Cup two years ago.

Galthie has focused far ahead on to World Cup victory on home soil in 2023, but this move shows he recognises the need to wind back and be more pragmatic against a far stronger opponent than the Pumas and Lelos this autumn.

Galthie knows he needs steel to go with the silk in his side, so the burly Jonathan Danty gets the nod with Gael Fickou in a robust midfield.

"They played together for three years at Stade Francais," Galthie said.

He saw enough of Cameron Woki's switch from flanker to lock against Georgia to keep him there against the All Blacks alongside Paul Willemse.

"We think he's the player who's in the best form there right now," Galthie said. "It's his ability to mix power, to hustle and bustle and be strong in the air."

A rib injury to hooker Julien Marchand means the in-form Peato Mauvaka starts, having scored two tries against the Lelos and one against Argentina off the bench.

Teams

All Blacks: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Akira Ioane, Sam Whitelock (capt), Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.
Reserves: Samisoni Taukei'aho, George Bower, Ofa Tuungafasi, Tupou Vaa'i, Shannon Frizell, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, David Havili.

France: Melvyn Jaminet, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere, Roman Ntamack, Antoine Dupont (captain); Gregory Alldritt, Anthony Jelonch, Francois Cros, Paul Willemse, Cameron Woki, Uini Atonio, Peato Mauvaka, Cyril Baille. Reserves: Gaetan Barlot, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Thibaud Flament, Dylan Cretin, Maxime Lucu, Matthieu Jalibert.

Last five tests

2016: All Blacks 24, France 19, Paris
2017: All Blacks 38, France 18, Paris
2018: All Blacks 52, France 11, Auckland
2018: All Blacks 26, France 13, Wellington
2018: All Blacks 49, France 14, Dunedin

Odds

All Blacks: $1.45
France: $2.60

Points start: -5.5 All Blacks

Weather

It's going to be a cold night in Paris with tempuratures hovering just below 10 degrees with a 15 percent chance of rain at Stade de France.

How to catch the action

The Herald will provide live updates. You can catch live commentary of the match on Newstalk ZB, Gold AM and iHeartRadio.

The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 1, with coverage beginning at 8am on Sunday. If you want to watch the match online, you can stream the game live via Sky Sport Now.