All Blacks review French Test in lead up
November 15, 2013
The All Blacks have reviewed last weeks game against the French to prepare for Twickenham Test © Getty Images
The All Blacks have reviewed frailties that are one week old rather than the disaster of a year ago in preparing to face England. Captain Richie McCaw says his team haven't watched any footage from last December's shock 38-21 loss to the English at Twickenham during preparation for Saturday's return showdown.
Instead they have scrutinised last weekend's tense 26-19 win over France in Paris, as well as England's defeats of Australia and Argentina this month. The All Blacks believe they were off their stride in Paris, with most of the team having not played for three weeks.
Halfback Aaron Smith, the fulcrum in New Zealand's all-purpose attacking game, hopes the rust has disappeared this week. "We were a little bit off in areas," he said. "France had really good line speed and they were able to put us under pressure. We'll take a good look at that because we didn't react too well at times."
Another glaring problem exposed by France was the scrums, where All Blacks tighthead prop Owen Franks expects the English to try to attack. New Zealand conceded five scrum penalties against France. A repeat could see Owen Farrell kick England clear as he did in the first half of last year's game when the hosts took a 12-0 lead into the break.
Franks admits he is returning to his best after missing the latter part of the Rugby Championship with a series of ongoing niggles. He was "near hundred per cent" against France. "Mentally, it was good to get that feeling back of being hungry about Test matches," he said.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland