France gamble for Blacks test
FRANCE coach Philippe Saint-Andre has taken a gamble by picking the inexperienced fly-half Remi Tales in an untested half-back pairing with Morgan Parra to face world champions New Zealand tomorrow.
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Tales, who will be paired with Parra for the first time, won his only two caps against the All Blacks this year as Les Bleus lost 30-0 and 24-9 in New Zealand in June.
Parra was included in the squad after his ban for punching an opponent in a Top 14 game was reduced from four to two weeks last month.
"I picked Morgan for his experience and his kicking skills," said Saint-Andre. He has a lot of caps (51). Jean-Marc is only second or third kicker at Toulouse. That played a part in my choice."
France, who have lost their last seven games against New Zealand, will need to play boldly, according to Saint-Andre.
"We will have to be intelligent and focused defensively," he said.
"It is important that the players believe in themselves, that they play with passion and intelligence, but most of all they must release the handbrake.
"There is obviously some fear when you face New Zealand. We should build on that fear, it must not annihilate us. We will need to run and be creative."
Whatever the result, Saint-Andre hopes that his team will "show they can compete with the best team in the world. We want to be actors in that match, not just spectators."
To do that, the manager has picked flanker Wenceslas Lauret, who has been in impressive form with Biarritz in the Top 14.
Meanwhile, New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has named a full-strength side, including the most experienced All Blacks pack ever fielded.
Having put out an experimental side for the 54-6 win over Japan last week, Hansen has recalled the team's most battle-hardened players for the match at Stade de France, with captain Richie McCaw switching back to openside flanker.
Number eight Kieran Read and blindside flanker Liam Messam complete a fierce back row, as the All Blacks seek to extend their winning streak to 12 this season and notch a fourth win of the year over Les Bleus after whitewashing them 3-0 at home during the June internationals.
The squad boasts 853 test caps in the starting 15, with another 112 caps on the bench.
FRANCE: B Dulin, Y Huget, F Fritz, W Fofana, M Medard, R Tales, M Parra; Y Forestier, P Pape, Y Maestri, P Pape, Y Maestri, T Dusautoir W Lauret, D Chouly.
NEW ZEALAND: I Dagg, C Jane, B Smith, Ma'a Nonu, C Piutau, D Carter, A Smith; T Woodcock, O Franks, K Mealamu, S Whitelock, B Retallick, L Messam, R McCaw, K Read.