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Video Nasty Spurs All Blacks In Marseille

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Fuseworks Media

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Marseille, Nov 26 NZPA - It was not the delightful autumn afternoon in Marseille but a chilly night in Dunedin that occupied the All Blacks after their final serious training session for their big rugby test of the year.

There is nothing like a video nasty to jolt players into action, and the All Blacks coaches today unleashed the tape of the 22-27 defeat to France in June -- if the tourists needed any further reminding.

"It obviously keeps you on your toes. Learning about the mistakes we made, some of them were really basic, especially our set piece," said fullback Mils Muliaina, the captain that night.

It is a long way from Carisbrook, the All Blacks' first test of the season, to their 14th of a patchy 2009 at a soldout, 60,000-capacity Stade Velodrome on Sunday (8.45am start NZT).

From that Dunedin test starting 15, the All Blacks have nine returnees but the additions are an impressive bunch: captain Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Jerome Kaino and Tom Donnelly.

France, captained by the abrasive Thierry Dusautoir, have 11 of their Dunedin starting 15 running out on Sunday.

"It was tough watching some of the clips, some of the basic mistakes we were making," Muliaina said.

"It was disappointing to watch what happened during the June series but I think we're a much better team.

"We've come a long way. We didn't quite gel as a team in June and the French brought over a really experienced team ... but they've got a lot better as well."

Managing their workloads has been the key this week, after a season that began for some with Super 14 trial matches in late January.

Muliaina admitted last week that his season hit a low point in South Africa in July, when time away from home got him down, but he freshened up and produced one of his better efforts in the 19-6 win over England.

The coaches have been easier on the players this week but today's session at Stade Jean Bouin, their 2007 World Cup base, was the big one.

"We showed signs today that we're starting to build a little bit of momentum, and hopefully we get out there and explode," Muliaina said.

French coach Marc Lievremont kept his side at their training base at Marcoussis, outside Paris, and they were scheduled to slip into town late tonight (NZT).

The All Blacks' main reference point is France's 20-13 win over the Springboks a fortnight ago in Toulouse, a similarly hostile environment to what looms on Sunday.

While the All Blacks want to be expansive, Muliaina is a realist and feels the test will be a tight, tense affair with the emphasis on a titanic forward struggle.

"The way they played against South Africa who are big and strong and physical, they came back well at halftime and pulled away at the end.

"The talk is about scoring more points and more tries, you'd like to hope that, but it's going to be a very tight match.

"We all want to play expansive rugby but the reality is there's a lot of pressure out there and there's other guys who are just as equal to the task in defence."

France will also bring with them the Dave Gallaher Trophy which they won narrowly on points differential despite the All Blacks' 14-10 win in Wellington.

Marseille's connection to New Zealand, as a base for soldiers heading to battle or receiving treatment during World War 1, was also providing some motivation.

"There's a lot of motivating factors; the Dave Gallaher Trophy, that's really important to us.

"We've touched a little bit on history and the war and I'm sure there will be more to come before Saturday. We're really desperate to take the trophy home."

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