All Blacks, France will be tense

2015-10-17 13:20
Steve Hansen (Gallo)

London - Defending champions New Zealand play France on Saturday in a World Cup quarter-final that promises a high-tension rerun of a legendary game eight years ago.

The All Blacks against Les Bleus is one of four quarter-finals pitting southern hemisphere sides against rivals from the north in the first knockout games of the World Cup.

The last eight starts with South Africa against Wales at Twickenham and is followed by the New Zealand-France clash at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Australia play Scotland and Ireland take on Argentina on Sunday.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been trying to calm nerves in his home country ahead of the latest clash with France.

A 2007 meltdown by New Zealand saw France come from behind to win 20-18 in the same stadium and in a quarter-final. They also came from behind to beat the All Blacks in the 1999 semi-final.

New Zealand in turn beat the French just 8-7 in the 2011 final in Auckland.

New Zealand have won all four of their group matches in this World Cup but were not always convincing for their fans.

"I can understand there is a bit of concern back home, because they are at home and not here," said Hansen.

"They don't know everything we've been doing, and they will be a little bit apprehensive about a few things because they don't have any control over it."

Hansen maintains that he concentrated his players on using the Pool C games to be ready for the knockout stages.

French coach Philippe Saint-Andre, who will step down after the World Cup, has predicted a thrilling game.

"When you play against New Zealand, you have to dig deeper in your resources and to get into a trance," he said calling on his players to find "this additional soul, generosity, craziness, mischief and intelligence to have our opponents losing their self-confidence".

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