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'In two years' time, it won't really matter': France clash won't have any bearing on 2023

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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The All Blacks will channel the hurt from their stinging loss to Ireland into their preparations for France, says assistant coach John Plumtree.

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Ireland were in control of proceedings in Dublin, dominating the territory and possession stakes to put the All Blacks under enormous pressure which eventually told in the second half when the home side turned around a 10-5 halftime deficit into a 20-10 lead.

The review session of the defeat was ‘honest’ to ensure that the side is clear ahead of this week’s clash in Paris with a strong French side.

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“All players just want honesty, and it’s our responsibility to make sure we are honest, so, in the review, we just reviewed what we thought was really important with a mindset that, ‘If we keep going forward, this is going to help the boys’,” he said.

“It’s not about catching anyone out, it’s about improvement, about where we can get better, if you like, and also painting a picture for what’s really important for this weekend.

“You know some of these boys, they’re a very proud bunch and they love this jersey more than anything, and when they feel that perhaps they’ve let it down, that upsets them, and that will turn to hurt and anger.

“The best way to channel all of that is to use it as fuel for the game that’s coming, and that’s France on Saturday.”

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France were highly fancied opponents heading into the Northern Tour off the back of two years of exciting rugby where they have become one of the more attractive sides to watch in Europe.

Matching physicality with flair, France have built a contender after signing former Welsh coach Shaun Edwards to oversee their defence while bringing through the ranks a ton of national talent.

Plumtree noted the power that they possess up front as a threat, as well as their offloading game that is hard to predict.

“They’re a pretty good side, obviously. Dangerous side. From up front, big boys,” he said.

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“They get momentum through their offloading game and their power. They can play through the middle of the park and they’re capable of playing out wide as well, obviously, with their fast backs, talented centres, and plenty of speed out wide, so it’s a typical French side in that regard.

“We watched them play in Australia and that wasn’t even their strongest side. The way they got momentum and continuity through their offloading game, and watching them in the Six Nations, they’re a bit like that too.

“We know that they’re dangerous and they’ve got a couple of key drivers in their team that orchestrate all of that, so we know it’s really going to be a handful for our defence this week.”

The All Blacks will met France in two years time in the pool stages of the 2023 Rugby World Cup and this is the first chance for the two squads to get a feel for each other.

The last time the two nations met was 2018, when France toured New Zealand in June but were put away 3-0 by a firing All Blacks side.

Plumtree doesn’t believe this clash will have any bearing on what will happen in 2023, as both sides will be largely different by then. However, All Blacks coach did highlight that the side doesn’t want to end their tour on a disappointing note after 15-games and a four month long tour.

“I think in two years’ time, it won’t really matter,” he said.

“We’ll be different and they’ll be different again. This is a big game. France have been waiting for us, like every team that we play in this part of the world, so we know what the challenge looks like.

“We know, also, that it’s our last game of a very long tour and we get to go home, which we’re all looking forward to, but this week has been interesting, actually.

“When the All Blacks lose, it’s certainly not the greatest environment to be in for the first couple of days.

“Everyone’s pretty down about it and grumpy about it, but by the time we get to Thursday and Friday, we’ll be really looking forward to it. Not that we’re not looking forward to it now, but the edge just gets sharper, if you like, by the time Saturday comes around, so we’re just looking forward to this one.

“Like I said, it’s our last game of the year, a 15-game programme, been on a really long trip, and hopefully we can just get our game going around our momentum and gain line and get our game going. If we can do that, we’ll cause some real big problems for them.”

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