New Zealand v France, Rugby World Cup, October 23, 2011
Weepu calm in the face of pressure
October 22, 2011
Piri Weepu will be vital to New Zealand's efforts © Getty Images
New Zealand scrum-half Piri Weepu has no doubt that relaxation will be crucial in the build-up to Sunday's Rugby World Cup Final against France at Eden Park.
The 28-year-old halfback has sensed the excitement among his team-mates as they seek a first world title since 1987, but believes that clear heads will win the day.
The All Blacks have history against France, losing out to Les Bleus in 1999 and 2007, but can already lay claim to one victory over their rivals in this year's tournament - a 37-17 Pool stage drubbing.
"You try to get your preparation right through the week, so when you come to match day you can go out there with a clear head and just play your game," Weepu said. "I think with occasions like this one, the more relaxed you stay, the less pressure you put on yourselves.
"I am pretty sure the boys get excited by moments like this. As a little kid in the backyard you dream of playing for your country and scoring the winning try or taking the winning kick. Moments like these are moments you don't want to forget.
"Everyone can't wait to wake up on game day and feel the buzz that is in the air and excitement around town. You can feel the energy. You go down to breakfast and look on the faces of the boys and you can see the excitement on their faces."
Weepu conceded that the All Blacks are expecting a tougher challenge from France after their Pool stage canter.
"You have to expect the unexpected with them," he added. "On their day they can play the best rugby of their lives, and this is the opportunity for them to do that. They can be quite dangerous, so we are definitely not taking them too lightly and we know it is going to be a pretty physical encounter."
France prop Nicolas Mas agreed with Weepu's assessment and called on his team-mates to get things right at the scrum in order to put pressure on the hosts.
"New Zealand have great impact at the scrum and you have to meet them," Mas said. "We need to be able to meet them in the scrum if we are going to be able to play. We have the whole match to do this.
"As usual in their plays, it is the players managing to set up the ball and the players doing their job, and we have noticed since the beginning of the competition that the All Blacks produce great performances up front. Their performance in the forwards set up the semi-final win against Australia."
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