New Zealand v France - First Test match preview

Last Updated: 08/06/13 8:05am

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New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has told his side not to underestimate France despite their poor RBS Six Nations.

The All Blacks entertain France at Eden Park - the scene of their 8-7 World Cup final victory in 2011 - on Saturday in the opening match of the three-Test series.

Les Bleus go into the clash after finishing bottom of the Six Nations table, with just one win and a draw from their five games.

However Hansen knows from experience - having been assistant coach when France beat the All Blacks in the 2007 World Cup quarter-finals - that the tourists have the ability to upset the odds.

"There's one thing I've learned about the French in 13 years of international coaching and that is if you don't respect them they'll thump you," said Hansen, who has named Aaron Cruden, Wyatt Crockett and Dane Coles in his starting XV. "They've got the ability to be one of the best teams in the world, if they turn up.

Monster

"You can see Philippe (Saint-Andre) has taken them back to the French old style, of 'play what's in front of you' and enjoy your rugby.

"Although it wasn't successful for them at the Six Nations, it's about growing into that style of game.

"They've certainly got a monster forward pack so we're looking forward to the challenge."

France coach Saint-Andre have named two uncapped players in his starting XV - with Camille Lopez named at fly-half and Adrien Plante coming in on the wing.

"Lopez came here really enthusiastic, fitted in with the rest of the squad really well and acclimatized to the system," Saint-Andre said.

"He has trained really well, we had no doubts about his starting the match."

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ben Afeaki, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Rene Ranger.

France: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Adrien Plante, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Akexandre Flanquart, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Maxime Mermoz.

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