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Sam Whitelock's warning for All Blacks ahead of France test

By AAP
Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

New Zealand captain Sam Whitelock expects France to go to their traditional playing style of set-piece dominance, mauls and a bit of flair in the backline when they clash at the Stade de France on Saturday.

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New Zealand are coming off a 29-20 loss to Ireland last weekend where they were, by their own admission, outplayed in most departments, and are looking to avoid back-to-back defeats for the second time in 12 months.

“We’ve had a really good week. Hopefully that means we show up on Saturday,” Whitelock told reporters.

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“They (France) are a smart side and they will stick to their strengths, but at the same time they will have looked at the last four or five games we have played and come up with a plan.

“Starving us of the ball worked for the Irish and they will probably use that tactic to some degree.

“France play a different style to all the other teams we have played. They have picked a big, strong team and I think they will play with a lot of mauls and scrums. We need to match that French flair that comes from their set-piece.”

The All Blacks are lauded for their willingness to run with ball in hand but were found wanting when they could not get that aspect of their game going against Ireland, with no discernible Plan B in sight.

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Whitelock said the experience of being back in Europe for the first time in three years had been a good one for the squad in learning those kinds of lessons.

“There is no right or wrong way (to play the game). You just have to go out there and play your style, and if that is what is needed on that day and you are successful, you come out on the right side of the scoreboard,” he said.

“It has been good to play (against) a couple of different styles. There are some guys for who this is the first time to the Northern Hemisphere and these great stadiums. That has been exciting.”

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mitch 1 hours ago
The Wallabies team Joe Schmidt must pick to win back Bledisloe Cup

Rodda will be a walk up starter at lock. Frost if you analyse his dominance has little impact and he’s a long way from being physical enough, especially when you compare to Rodda and the work he does. He was quite poor at the World Cup in his lack of physicality. Between Rodda and Skelton we would have locks who can dominate the breakdown and in contact. Frost is maybe next but Schmidt might go for a more physical lock who does their core work better like Ryan or LSL. Swain is no chance unless there’s a load of injuries. Pollard hasn’t got the scrum ability yet to be considered. Nasser dominated him when they went toe to toe and really showed him up. Picking Skelton effects who can play 6 and 8. Ideally Valetini would play 6 as that’s his best position and Wilson at 8 but that’s not ideal for lineout success. Cale isn’t physical enough yet in contact and defence but is the best backrow lineout jumper followed by Wright, Hanigan and Swinton so unfortunately Valetini probably will start at 8 with Wright or Hanigan at 6. Wilson on the bench, he’s got too much quality not to be in the squad. Paisami is leading the way at 12 but Hamish Stewart is playing extremely well also and his ball carrying has improved significantly. Beale is also another option based on the weekend. Beale is class but he’s also the best communicator of any Australian backline player and that can’t be underestimated, he’ll be in the mix.

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