Scrum worries for French ahead of test two
It seems the French are more worried about their faltering scrum than any perceived domination over the All Blacks at breakdown time.
Ahead of tomorrow's second test, in Christchurch, French skipper Thierry Dusautoir and forwards' coach Yannick Bru both spoke of the need to make drastic improvements with their set-piece.
The side benefited from plenty of training time focused on the breakdown ahead of last Saturday's 23-13 loss to the All Blacks, but think they've had a far better balanced week since then.
"Of course we work a lot on our scrum and our lineouts and I hope that will allow us to do better against the All Blacks tomorrow," Dusautoir said shortly after arriving in the Garden City.
"I think we did good [at the breakdown] so we need to try and do the same again, but they are now aware."
Bru, an 18-time French international hooker, felt more embarrassment about his pack's scrum than pride for their breakdown effort.
"I just know we have to improve in the accuracy of our set-piece from last week. Our scrum was really poor," he said.
He said his team weren't clever enough adapting to Wayne Barnes' interpretations and felt the French's poor start at scrum time affected "the psychology of the referee for the rest of the game".
"The first free kick we gave away was quite stupid and silly and I shout at the guys because we have to keep in mind, the referee is a human being, he never did any scrummaging in his life.
"We will try and be much more disciplined on the scrum."
Bru also felt his side's domination at the breakdown had been overplayed.
"I don't forget New Zealand scored a try [from the breakdown]... at the key moment of the first half just before halftime.
"I think it's exaggerated to say we dominated the breakdown.
"We knew that one of the strengths of New Zealand was the recovery ball and they scored two tries on recovery ball. We will need to be more aware that the danger of New Zealand is permanent at the breakdown."
The French have made four changes to their starting line-up from Auckland, and three in the pack.
Experienced first-five Frederic Michalak will start as will prop Nicolas Mas, rookie lock Christophe Samson and debutant Bernard Le Roux will play openside.
Bru said while the inclusion of Mas, a 33-year-old with 61 caps, would hopefully help the scrum and the French would benefit more from another week together.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Is Richie McCaw now the greatest All Black of all time?