PARIS (Reuters) - Saturday's clash against New Zealand is an important step in France's building process towards the 2023 World Cup, captain Antoine Dupont said on Friday.
Since coach Fabien Galthie took over after the 2019 World Cup, Les Bleus have rediscovered their touch although they have yet to win any title.
France and New Zealand have not faced each other since June 2018, and most of Dupont's team mates have never played the All Blacks.
"It's true that many of my team mates will discover the Blacks. I see this test as a great challenge, against a team that has been a reference for years," the scrumhalf told a news conference.
"We are in the process of building. It's an important step."
New Zealand, who slumped to a 29-20 defeat against Ireland last weekend, have not lost against Les Bleus since 2009 and they have been unbeaten in France since 2000.
Dupont is relishing the challenge as he faces his All Blacks counterpart Aaron Smith.
"Aaron Smith is still a reference in the scrum half position. He has more than 100 caps, he is a world champion, he has nothing left to prove," the 25-year-old said.
"It's always interesting, always fun to play against this kind of player."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot)