France aim for historic win
June 19, 2009
France will hope to continue their celebrations at Westpac Stadium this weekend © Getty Images
New Zealand and France go head-to-head in the second Test at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on Saturday, with Graham Henry's All Blacks under pressure from their rugby-mad public following their 27-22 defeat at the hands of Les Bleus at Carisbrook last weekend.
The French were pelted with bottles by the crowd in Dunedin, having dared to beat the All Blacks, but will be fired up in their pursuit of a famous series victory. The home side meanwhile, will be acutely aware of the fury that will await them should they fail to gain revenge at the Cake Tin.
Henry has rung the changes, with his injury problems worsened by the news that hooker Andrew Hore and flanker Adam Thomson would be unavailable for the game. Thomson has a broken hand and will be out for up to six weeks, while bruised ribs have kept Hore on the sidelines.
Keven Mealamu steps in to replace Hore in the front-row alongside Tony Woodcock and Neemia Tialata, while Tanerau Latimer is the latest man to pull on the No.7 jersey in the absence of skipper Richie McCaw. Latimer is joined in the back-row by the returning Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read, the Canterbury man shifting to No.8.
In the backs, Conrad Smith returns from injury in place of Isaia Toeava and links up with his Hurricanes team-mate Ma'a Nonu. Mils Muliaina leads the All Blacks again in a back-three also containing Cory Jane and Joe Rokocoko.
France coach Marc Lievremont has remained true to his rotation policy seen during the Six Nations, with three changes made to his winning side. Nicolas Mas steps in to the front-row in place of veteran Sylvain Marconnet, with Racing-Metro-bound lock Sebastien Chabal replacing Pascal Pape in the second-row.
In the backs, Perpignan centre Maxime Mermoz is handed a start alongside Damien Traille, with Stade Francais powerhouse Mathieu Bastareaud dropping to the bench. Leicester scrum-half Julien Dupuy wins his second cap alongside one of last weekend's try-scorers Francois Trinh-Duc, while another in fullback Maxime Medard starts with Vincent Clerc and Cedric Heymans on the wings.
"A loss always brings the best out of people. It should, it brings a greater edge," Henry said. "Time is an important factor. Having some time together so the guys get to know each other and we get to know them as well.
"If we don't learn, we're in big trouble. It's just getting guys more accustomed to playing at this level of rugby. They're starting to feel more comfortable in the environment, and that was noticeable (at training), it was good to see them moving forward from last week."
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina (capt); Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Joe Rokocoko; Stephen Donald, Jimmy Cowan; Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Neemia Tialata, Brad Thorn, Isaac Ross, Jerome Kaino, Tanerau Latimer, Kieran Read
Replacements: Aled de Malmanche, John Afoa, Bryn Evans, George Whitelock, Piri Weepu, Luke McAlister, Isaia Toeava
France: Maxime Medard; Vincent Clerc, Maxime Mermoz, Damien Traille, Cedric Heymans; Francois Trinh-Duc, Julien Dupuy; Fabien Barcella, William Servat, Nicolas Mas, Sebastien Chabal, Romain Millo-Chluski, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Fulgence Ouedraogo, Louis Picamoles
Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Thomas Domingo, Remy Martin, Damien Chouly, Dimitri Yachvili, Yannick Jauzion, Mathieu Bastareaud
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring