France go into tonight's game with New Zealand believing that they can record a home win over the All Blacks for the first time in nine years. The French beat New Zealand 27-22 in Dunedin in June and outmuscled world and Tri Nations champions South Africa two weeks ago in Toulouse. That 20-13 win gave the team belief that they can conquer the All Blacks in Marseille, the site of that last home victory over them in 2000.
"I hope all the players realise what's at stake," said France coach Marc Lievremont. "They are a complete team once more. Their squad is full of confidence. We still feel like we can compete. We'll put in an outstanding game against them." The All Blacks have so far beaten Australia, Wales, Italy and England on successive Saturdays and are yet to concede a try. "Over the past six years we've done the European tour four times with two Grand Slams, and we're very proud of our record here," said All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
"Other sides have tried to emulate that and haven't done so and it just shows you it's not easy. We're proud of what we've achieved this tour - we'd like to add a bit of finish to what we're doing." Meanwhile, Wales are not being fooled by the form of an Australian side who have won just one Test match of their European tour so far. The Wallabies have beaten England, drawn with Ireland and, last weekend, lost to Scotland.
"They will most definitely be like a wounded animal," Wales lock Alun-Wyn Jones said. "We will see if we can maintain the momentum we have picked up after beating Samoa and Argentina, and this will be the telling of how far we have come from last year's autumn series." Wales beat Australia 21-18 in last season's corresponding fixture, and enjoyed a 33-16 win over Argentina last weekend. "It will be a completely different ask for us, especially given the way Australia are playing in the back-line, the way they are constructing their moves and playing rugby," said Jones.
"They are another major southern hemisphere side, but they will pose a completely different challenge. People say their attack hasn't been great from the ball they've been getting, but their backs are flourishing off whatever ball they get." * With agencies Wales v Australia, KO 9.15pm & France v New Zealand, KO 11.45pm, both on Showsports 3