International Rugby: French XV v New Zealand Preview

A second-strength All Blacks squad will take on a plucky French XV outfit at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday the 14th of November.

An extremely inexperienced New Zealand side will be looking to do what their Maori All Black counterparts failed to do last weekend and get one over a French representative outfit. The hosts for this midweek fixture are far from a star-studded outfit but their French Barbarian counterparts, in typical French fashion, illustrated that fired-up representative sides can get the better of anyone on their day. As such, this midweek All Blacks team will need to be at their best if they are to avoid a fate similar to that of their Maori brethren.

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French XV v New Zealand | Tuesday 14 November | Parc Olympique Lyonnais | 19:55

To Win (80 Mins)
French XV 15/2 | Draw 25/1 | New Zealand 1/20
French XV (+18.5) 9/10 | New Zealand (-18.5) 9/10

French XV
Make no bones about it, this All Blacks reserve side is in for a massive test this Tuesday evening as the French XV look extremely handy on paper with internationals such as Scott Speeding, Francois Trinh Duc, and Yoann Maestri all being handed starts. The aforementioned trio have all played at a World Cup, and have taken on the All Blacks multiple times, so they know exactly what their side will be in for come this midweek clash.

The French XV starting backline is actually packed with players in their mid-to-late-twenties, so it's by no means an inexperienced backline division. They also have a very solid midfield with Racing Metro's Henry Chanvancy linking up with Stade's Jonathon Dante. The latter is an absolute bruiser whose clash with opposite number, Ngani Laumape, is going to be one for the ages.

While they have a very experienced backline, the same statement cannot be made of the hosts' forward pack which is full of youngsters. 22-year-old Stade Francais flanker, Sekou Macalou, and 21-year-old hooker, Camile Chat, are the real babies of the pack. The latter has turned out for the French national side, while the former has been touted to become a French legend by many a pundit.

New Zealand
This may sound strange, but this is probably the tour game All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been looking forward to the most. It's no secret that the All Blacks mentor is looking to build a very deep squad for the 2019 World Cup. And while his side's game against the Barbarians a fortnight ago did offer Hansen the opportunity to try out a few things, Tuesday's fixture is slightly more conducive to experimentation than the clash at Twickenham was.

Speaking of the Barbarians game, Hansen has elected to restore 14 of the squad that ran out 22-31 victors at Twickenham. And while you didn't need to be a fortune teller to predict that happening, you would have certainly needed a crystal ball to foresee Luke Whitelock being handed the captaincy role for Wednesday's fixture. The Crusaders stalwart last played a Test for his country back in 2013 and he wasn't even included in the original 37-man end of the year touring party.

Verdict: New Zealand (-18.5) 9/10
The French XV's starting line-up certainly looks good on paper but their bench is lacking real firepower. This can't be said of their opponents with juggernauts Akira Ioane, Atu Moli and Asafo Aumua sure to make big marks during the final 20-minutes of the game. I can see a late All Black blitz, courtesy of their bench, seeing the visitors past a big handicap. 

Written by Darry Worthington for

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