Rugby-Whitelock warns his All Blacks to be ready for French flair

  • Rugby
  • Saturday, 20 Nov 2021

FILE PHOTO: Oct 23, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; All Blacks coach Ian Foster (left) and captain Sam Whitelock talk with the media after the 1874 Cup Rugby Autumn Internationals rugby match at FedEx Field featuring the New Zealand All Blacks vs the USA Eagles. Mandatory Credit: Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - New Zealand captain Sam Whitelock expects France to go to their traditional playing style of set-piece dominance, mauls and a bit of flair in the backline when the teams clash in their autumn international at the Stade de France on Saturday.

New Zealand are coming off a 29-20 loss nL1N2S40GG to Ireland last weekend where they were, by their own admission, outplayed in most departments, and are looking to avoid back-to-back defeats for the second time in 12 months.

"We’ve had a really good week. Hopefully that means we show up on Saturday," Whitelock told reporters.

"They (France) are a smart side and they will stick to their strengths, but at the same time they will have looked at the last four or five games we have played and come up with a plan.

"Starving us of the ball worked for the Irish and they will probably use that tactic to some degree.

"France play a different style to all the other teams we have played. They have picked a big, strong team and I think they will play with a lot of mauls and scrums. We need to match that French flair that comes from their set-piece."

The All Blacks are lauded for their willingness to run with ball in hand but were found wanting when they could not get that aspect of their game going against Ireland, with no discernible Plan B in sight.

Whitelock said the experience of being back in Europe for the first time in three years had been a good one for the squad in learning those kinds of lessons.

"There is no right or wrong way (to play the game). You just have to go out there and play your style, and if that is what is needed on that day and you are successful, you come out on the right side of the scoreboard," he said.

"It has been good to play (against) a couple of different styles. There are some guys for who this is the first time to the Northern Hemisphere and these great stadiums. That has been exciting."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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