Cape Town - The All Blacks selectors are expecting a tough challenge in
the world champions' three-Test series against France which kicks off in
Auckland on June 9.
At the announcement of the All Blacks squad to contest the
series, in Auckland on Sunday, assistant coach Ian Foster said that while
France had been through a tough time in recent years they were on the climb and
he was expecting a traditionally tough series.
Foster said it had been interesting to see reports that les
Bleus would not be sending over a strong team but when looking through the
details they were bringing a side with a lot of energy.
"I think they had a Six Nations that they grew and grew
and we saw a distinct change in the way they were trying to play," he
"The reports we've had said there was a real energy
amongst their players to come over here and I think with the number of,
probably, senior players that they've had that have been injured during Six
Nations that are now coming back, I guess there is plenty to prove for some of
Foster cited the 44-cap three-quarter Wesley Fofana as a
typical example of that.
"We're expecting a very motivated French team, we know
they've got a lot of depth so the fact they're going to be missing a few of
their players due to their final in that first Test won't change the fact it is
going to be a very physical team that seems to be on the way up," he
It was always a special series against France. There had
always been a great relationship between the countries in rugby and it was an
historic relationship based on the fact they had often come to New Zealand when
people had written them off, yet they had played some outstanding rugby and
knocked over the All Blacks more than New Zealanders would like.
"That fact alone guarantees that we are very
motivated," said Foster.
After the first Test in Auckland, France will play the
second Test in Wellington on June 16 and the third Test in Dunedin on June 23.