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The French connection

From Bod’s hat-trick to Sexton’s drop-goal, no opponent has defined this Irish rugby century quite like France

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How the NZ Super Rugby sides have helped Wallabies for France tests

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The Wallabies feel a recent taste of New Zealand rugby has set them up well for the test series against France, which opens next Wednesday in Brisbane.


Wallabies forwards coach Dan McKellar steered the Brumbies through Super Rugby Trans-Tasman before joining the test set-up for the first time under head coach Dave Rennie.

McKellar said there were similarities in the way France and New Zealand play.

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“They’ve got threats across the board,” McKellar said of Les Bleus.

“They’re very similar to New Zealanders in terms that they’re dangerous from unstructured environments.

“You turn over the ball, you kick the ball aimlessly they will hurt you from counter attack, from turnover attack.

“And then they present the up front challenge – strong set piece, big men who like to dominate the collisions so we need to make sure that our set piece is on and we have a thirst for that physical challenge and if we do that we give ourselves a chance.”


Wallabies utility back Reece Hodge, in the mix to wear the No.10 jersey in the absence of the injured James O’Connor, said France had southern hemisphere traits in their game style.

“From what I’ve seen they’ve got the ability to play a structured game but they’re also great on counter attack and off turnover,” Hodge told AAP.

“They’re almost like a hybrid team in terms of northern and southern hemisphere and I think that’s why they’ve had so much success against different types of quality opposition.”

McKellar has tapped into the knowledge of veteran Sitaleki Timani, who spent nine years playing in France, and Matt Philip, who spent the past six months with Top 14 team Pau.


There are six players in the French squad from Timani’s most recent French outfit Clermont and three from Pau.

“I’ve had some good conversations with both boys, Matty and Sita, around their experiences playing over there and understanding how French teams work and what they focus on and what’s important to them,” McKellar said.

“It’s really good insights to have and we will certainly take that on board.”


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