x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

French fearful of the challenge of the All Blacks pack

New Zealand's forward power is one of the main threats to France's hopes of winning their first World Cup title.

Nicolas Mas has put France on full alert for a fearsome challenge from the New Zealand pack in today's Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park.

And Mas, the tight-head prop who will pack down against Tony Woodcock, has no doubt that meeting the All Blacks' scrum threat head on will be key towards Les Bleus causing a possible upset.

"New Zealand have great impact at the scrum and you have to meet them," Mas said.

"We need to be able to meet them in the scrum if we are going to be able to play. We have the whole match to do this.

"As usual in their plays, it is the players managing to set up the ball and the players doing their job, and we have noticed since the beginning of the competition that the All Blacks produce great performances up front.

"Their performance in the forwards set up the semi-final win against Australia."

France struggled in the scrums when New Zealand beat them 37-17 last month when the two sides met in the pool stages.

"They have a strong scrum - they put a lot of time and effort into it," said Mas.

"They are used to coming in strong and coming in fast. The difficulty in playing against them is meeting their speed.

"They do not give you much time to move them, and then they free the ball up very quickly.

"Two teams want to win, and they will do everything in their power to win - that is the aggression and the passion. There will be a huge amount of passion involved."

Mas played alongside Dan Carter at Perpignan during the fly-half's six-month sabbatical in France in 2009.

Carter, international rugby leading points scorer with 1,250, will miss the final with a groin injury suffered three weeks ago, leaving Aaron Cruden to pull the strings at fly-half. Dave Ellis, France's defence coach, says they can exploit the absence of Carter.

"He [Carter] is the best No 10 in the world, and he can just see things and take it upon himself to create it," Ellis said. "When he left the field in 2007 [World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff], that was one of the major factors in the game.

"It was a major turning point in the psychological part of the game.

"The All Blacks have different defensive systems, and there are more weaknesses than we found in the Welsh system and also in the Australian system. We feel there are certain areas of their defence we can exploit.

"We are keen to see what will happen to certain players on the All Blacks team if we do manage to keep them under continued pressure."