France keeping their spirits up for test three
The city might be different but the message is the same - France rate this tour a success and are looking forward to facing the All Blacks tonight.
Repeating coach Philippe Saint-Andre's message from Auckland the previous day, France captain Thierry Dusautoir remained upbeat upon arrival in New Plymouth yesterday.
Yes, their season has been 10 months long. Yes, many in the squad are tired. But no, there would be no excuses.
Mentally, the impact of losing the first test, when they were in a position to win, had been tough but they must continue to learn.
''We could be coming here at one-one,'' he said. ''But we still come here and do our best to win. Maybe physically we are not as strong as we were three weeks ago.''
The 30-0 loss in Christchurch was particularly galling because France had spent so much time trying to limit All Black opportunities, he said.
''We lost too much ball and they really know how to use it. We should take note of this tomorrow. If we do not lose so much ball, maybe we have the chance to win the game.''
He accepted his side would be very much underdogs for the match, given the team selected contains players with limited experience, especially in key positions, but to a man they knew it would hold them in good stead in the future.
''We came here with 35 players and I think it was important to all of them to play at this level and to play against the ABs. Maybe the inexperienced ones will not be as tired because they did not play the first two games.
''We will see tomorrow because this is the most important experience of their careers.''
Comparing the 2013 crop of All Blacks to other New Zealand sides he has faced up to, the former IRB player of the year was generous in his praise.
It mattered little, he thought, who played because they all respected the tradition of the All Blacks.
''They all know how to carry the ball, how to play and take their opportunities when other teams make mistakes.''