Marc Lievremont backs France to upset New Zealand

France coach Marc Lievremont has described New Zealand's World Cup semi-final destruction of Australia as "exceptional".

But he maintains that he has the belief France can tear up the formbook and produce one of the international game's great upsets.

While New Zealand have arrived at Sunday's final unbeaten - their pool stage results included a victory over Les Bleus - France suffered defeat against Tonga and scraped past semi-final opponents Wales by a point despite their opponents having captain Sam Warburton sent off.

"We are in the final match and every time we play them (New Zealand) it is the same thing," said Lievremont, whose team will play in their changed kit of all white.

"They are always the favourites, but I believe in my team and I believe we can win."

Lievremont has named an unchanged side for the final, although he will not confirm the composition of his replacements' bench until later this week.

"It is always the same when it comes down to the All Blacks," he added.

"In the first half of the match [against Australia] they were very strong and aggressive and they were impressive. In the second half it was the same thing and the All Blacks dominated.

"You know, I expect the best from the All Blacks, and I think they played their best rugby in that match. They were exceptional."

France's World Cup campaign has been littered with constant suggestions of rifts in the camp between Lievremont and his players.

And he fanned the flames himself earlier this weekend when he described some of them as "spoiled brats" for going out to celebrate the victory over Wales when he asked them not to.

But Lievremont said today: "I think I said those things to put pressure on them.

"And when I read the headlines the next day and saw my words in the written press, I thought to myself that I had missed an opportunity to keep my mouth shut.

"What we need to do now is focus on our solidarity and our aggression."

Lievremont will become the first man to feature in a World Cup final as a player and coach this weekend - he was part of Les Bleus' beaten 1999 team - but he added: "It is very difficult to compare the two roles.

"But often what it comes down to is the small details.

"I think my first words to the players when we came to the World Cup was that everything counts, mentally and physically, and we need to be able to do everything in our power to win this match."

France lock Lionel Nallet, meanwhile, said Lievremont's criticism of players had not affected preparations for the final.

"I did not appreciate it at all, but that is just my opinion," he claimed.

"We already knew that the week was going to be complicated enough, so perhaps there was no reason to add to that pressure.

"My focus is on Sunday's match, and there are certain things that I will use to my advantage in terms of preparation.

"It wasn't anything that unsettled me in any particular way. I would like to repeat once again that it was not important."



  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk