New Zealand wary of unpredictable France

New Zealand coach Graham Henry claims he is taking little notice of France's unimpressive World Cup semi-final performance against Wales.

Les Bleus laboured to a 9-8 victory as three Morgan Parra penalties saw them home at the expense of a Wales team whose captain Sam Warburton was sent off after just 18 minutes.



The All Blacks have been installed as overwhelming favourites to land the Webb Ellis Trophy at France's expense next Sunday, support highlighted by yesterday's impressive 20-6 semi-final victory over Australia.



But Henry believes New Zealand must be prepared to encounter a fierce examination.



"It's very important we come down," he said. "It was a huge game (against Australia) on the weekend - we can't stay up there.



"We've got to come down, get to base again, have a clean sheet of paper and build again for this Test match on Sunday against the French.



"Although they didn't play particularly well in their semi-final, we know they've got the ability to play outstandingly, and they have done that in the past.



"The French team, they can be the best in the world on their day.



"The All Blacks have had some great Test matches against the French during the last eight years, starting with that Paris Test in 2004 (New Zealand won 45-6).



"It was a game that put a lot of these young guys on the map, and a lot of them now have played 70, 80, 100 games for the All Blacks.



"But in 2007, after beating the French by 50 points or thereabouts in a game prior to that, we got beaten by them in the (World Cup) quarter-final. That's the reality.



"There is history in All Black-France Rugby World Cup games. Outside of that, apart from a Test in Dunedin, I think we've won every game.



"So we've won every game in France and lost one game at home over the last eight years to the French, and lost a World Cup quarter-final, which was the most bizarre game that I've ever been involved in.



"There is a lot of history there. The boys respect the French team, they've got a lot of very talented players and it will be a good final."



The dust, though, has yet to settle on New Zealand's triumph against Australia, a game they dominated on the back of an early Ma'a Nonu try



Henry added: "It was a pretty heroic performance and everyone contributed to that. There was a real edge to everybody's game.



"The Australians are a very good side, and they've got players who can cut you to pieces. They've got world class players in the backs, particularly.



"If you give them a chance, give them some space, they can take advantage of that, cut you to pieces and win rugby games against the odds."



Henry has also given his backing to the appointment of 33-year-old South African referee Craig Joubert, who will take charge of Sunday's final.



"He is a very good referee," Henry said. "I think he's a referee who relates well to players on the field.



"He is very clear on his instruction, he has a lot of composure out there. He's developed as probably the top referee, or one of the top referees, in the world over the last three or four years.



"It's pleasing because the players enjoy playing when he is refereeing, and that is a sign of a good referee.



"He's cool out there, he communicates well and makes good decisions, which is critical."



PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
A bartender serves beers
news
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
film
Life and Style
The finale at Dolce and Gabbana autumn/winter 2015
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?