All Blacks seek 'quick, clean ball'
June 13, 2013
Sebastien Vahaamahina has been dropped to the bench © Getty Images
New Zealand flanker Liam Messam is confident the All Blacks' effort will be a lot better in the second Test Christchurch on Saturday night because they now know France's capabilities as a result of the first match at Eden Park. Messam said the emphasis in the week between Tests had been on sorting out the issues at the breakdown and getting "quick, clean ball' for the backs.
"It was really our first hit out as a team in a game sense and it was always going to be a little messy," Messam said of the first Test. "We said that ahead of the game, and this week is really trying to make it perfect so we can go out there and give our backs some good clean ball."
Messam said the team was aware skipper Kieran Read faced a big weekend playing his 50th Test, and the All Blacks' 500th, on his home ground, but he was confident the team could go out, have some fun and get a win for the captain with the right mental approach.
He noted that he and the All Blacks had to containing the threat of France No.8 Louis Picamoles, dropped the ball cold with the tryline beckoning in Auckland. "He's 130 clicks [kg] and trying to stop that big man is something we as a loose forward trio look forward to. We talked about him in the first game and what we needed to do to cut him down so once again we will be looking to slow his momentum down and maybe chuck a speed bump in front of him."
Messam also noted the France backrowers were all big, strong men who were very good over the ball in the breakdown. "They're a lot quicker onto the ball than a normal Super Rugby side and we've got to be there a little earlier and try and take them out as quick as we can."
New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Liam Mesam; Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock, Ben Franks, Jeremy Thrush, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Beauden Barrett, Rene Ranger.
France: Maxime Medard; Adrien Plante, Florian Fritz, Wesley Fofana, Yoann Huget; Frederic Michalak, Maxime Machenaud; Louis Picamoles, Bernard Le Roux, Thierry Dusautoir (captain); Yoann Maestri, Christophe Samson; Nicolas Mas, Dimitri Szarzewski, Thomas Domingo. Replacements: Benjamin Kayser, Vincent Debaty, Luc Ducalon, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Yannick Nyanga, Brice Dulin, Remi Tales, Mathieu Bastareaud.
New Zealand won the first test by 10 points (video available only in Australia)
It was another bumper year of rugby action in 2014; join us as we take a look back at some of the season's top statistics
Salary caps, Saints, sinners and scrums - Monday Maul looks back at the key talking points from an eventful weekend
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14