Thierry Dusautoir seeks to lay ghosts of 2011
June 1, 2013
Thierry Dusautoir is well prepared to face the All Blacks © Getty Images
France captain Thierry Dusautoir admits to feeling mixed emotions as he prepares for the three-Test series against the All Blacks.
Come June 8, when the teams take the field at Eden Park for the first Gallaher Cup Test, 594 days will have passed since the All Blacks lifted the William Webb Ellis Cup in Auckland after their 8-7 win over the unlikeliest of opponents, France. Eighteen months after the one-point loss, Dusautoir, the man crowned 2011 Player of the Year, accepts France didn't deserve to win the final despite a strong performance. "When we remember this moment, there are feelings of both [up and down]," Dusautoir said on Saturday. "If I have to be honest, the All Blacks were the best team of the World Cup. We had a great game that day but the best team won."
Dusautoir has ambitions of victory despite leading a relatively inexperienced team to one of the hallowed grounds in world rugby. "There's going to be a lot of young guys getting their first cap against the All Blacks," he said. "It's not easy but I'm sure they're going to give their best."
Dusautoir will motivate his naive and nervous team-mates with words involving confidence, something the visitors had in spades on October 23, 2011. "I tell them they need to be confident, to know that they're here with the French team. They deserve it. They have to enjoy being here and play their best rugby because here you have to play your best if you want to not look ridiculous on the pitch."
The French are seeking to end a 19-year series drought in New Zealand, as well as securing a win at Eden Park, but coach Philippe Saint-Andre famously was part of the last France team to secure a series win in New Zealand in 1994. Former coach Marc Lievremont told his side of that famous series victory ahead of the opening match of the 2009 series in Dunedin, where the visitors secured a 27-22 win before losing the series 2-1. "Maybe it will have the same chance and we'll be able to win at least one match," Dusautoir said on Saturday.