Tuesday 17 October 2017

Hansen targets french scalp for seasoned kiwis

Three All Blacks with 100-plus Test caps and another with 98 will lead New Zealand in the opening match of their European tour against France today.

New Zealand feature 853 Test caps in their starting XV, plus 112 caps on their bench for the Stade de France collision.

In the forwards, 105-Test prop Tony Woodcock will pack down alongside 108-Test hooker Keven Mealamu.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw returns on the openside flank for what will be his 122nd Test match.

The All Blacks, who edged France in the final to win the 2011 World Cup in Auckland, warmed up for today's game with a 54-6 win over Japan in Tokyo last weekend. After the Paris match, they will play England on November 16 in London and Ireland on November 24 in Dublin.

"France are one of our great rugby foes, so we are looking forward to this," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. "It won't be easy – the French will come at us with physicality, passion and something new."

Against France, the All Blacks will be wearing their alternate white strip which will be embossed with a red poppy on the sleeve to mark Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the end of World War I.

Thirteen All Blacks died in the war, including 1905-06 Originals captain, Sergeant Dave Gallaher, born in Donegal. The trophy, contested between France and the All Blacks, is named the David Gallaher Cup in his honour.

New Zealand – I Dagg; C Jane, B Smith, M Nonu, C Piutau; D Carter, A Smith; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, L Messam, R McCaw, K Read. Reps: D Coles, W Crockett, C Faumuina, S Luatua, S Cane, T Kerr-Barlow, A Cruden, R Crotty.

France – B Dulin; Y Huget, F Fritz, W Fofana, M Medard; R Tales, M Parra; Y Forestier, B Kayser, N Mas, P Pape, Y Maestri, T Dusautoir, W Lauret, D Chouly. Reps: D Szarzewski, V Debaty, R Slimani, S Vahaamahina, A Claassen, JM Doussain, C Lopez, G Fickou

Ref – J Peyper (SA)

France v New Zealand,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 8.0

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