If New Zealand’s tabloid Herald was the ultimate voice in the game, France would be reduced to reeking filth. It has been acerbic, vitriolic, and almost condescending to Les Blues team. However, history of last few years suggests that France is prone to transform into a different team altogether when there is pride and more at stake.
On paper, All Blacks New Zealand should have it fairly easy. They have a host of quality players like Smith, Dagg, Nonu and Aaron Cruden. Piri Weepu has filled in well for Dan Carter at least in penalty conversions and has been excellent at the least. Their inspirational skipper who wears the coveted No. 7 jersey is not at his fittest but still a reckoning force.
New Zealand has a mystifying scrum force and deceptively surge ahead through the scrum into dangerous try out situations. All Blacks always has two options in mind; whether to go for the ruck or just convert a drop kick. In the event, they gain quite a lot of penalties and Weep is having time of his life. Graham Henry is of course quite relaxed even if players know it might be tough overcoming the final hurdle.
Trouble lies in not being complacent. They have already beaten France 37-17 in their group encounter and would find it hard to envision what new can France throw. France somehow got over Wales in the semifinals, and won the quarters against England more because of English ineptitude. New Zealand, meanwhile has gone from strength to strength. All Blacks has reinforced their strength by naming an unchanged side for the finals while France would do well to go with a few changes, especially in hooker position.
The match might throw up a few injuries if France fails to match New Zealand’s pace. There is some in some strategy yet to be unveiled in Les Blues camps, as they have fared well against All Blacks in recent World Cups.