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We Won't Be Bullied By French Says McCaw

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Marseille, Nov 27 NZPA - Captain Richie McCaw vows the All Blacks won't be bullied by a fired-up French side as they brace for plenty of early niggle in tomorrow's much-awaited rugby test here.

The opening exchanges promise to be electric before a sellout crowd of 60,000 at Stade Velodrome, with France protecting a record of just one defeat from nine tests here and the All Blacks desperate to finish their five-test tour on a high and regain the Dave Gallaher Trophy.

McCaw said his full-strength side had spoken of keeping their discipline in the face of any foul play, and were ready for anything when the test kicks off at 8.45am (NZT).

"I think so, there's no doubt. It's not a big issue but we've got to physically stand up, you can't afford to be bullied around. I know the guys are pretty aware of that," McCaw said.

"Last week we came up against England who were desperate. You've got to give it straight back and against this team it's going to be especially important."

France, coached by Marc Lievremont, flew into Marseille today after a week preparing at their training base outside Paris.

They're on a roll after a 20-13 win over South Africa, who beat the All Blacks three times in the Tri-Nations, then a stroll against Samoa.

The All Blacks have slowly built into the week after a marathon season and a torrid physical clash with England, which they won 19-6 and recalled Neemia Tialata, Jerome Kaino and Cory Jane to their side.

"We don't want to have any excuses, we want to make sure we finish off as best we can. That's what we've been telling the boys this week, and everyone's pretty keen on that," McCaw said.

"We never do (back down), that's the way the guys are, we confront everything."

McCaw recalled how the All Blacks were dominated physically in Dunedin, their 22-27 defeat to France in June when the skipper was absent injured along with Dan Carter.

The message would be the same before their fifth consecutive packed house of the tour: start well and try to take the deafening home crowd out of play.

While they accounted for Wales, Italy and England, they couldn't kick away and the home crowd remained in full voice until fulltime.

"You've got to start well, there's no doubt about that. If you do that it can quieten down the crowd. It's always the plan. I don't think we quite did that in Italy.

"A team like the French, you can't allow them to get a start which is perhaps what we did in Dunedin. They're a pretty hard team to get under control."

Most All Blacks have predicted a tight test match which could hinge on a moment of magic.

McCaw will lead the crucial battle for breakdown possession alongside Kaino and Kieran Read, against a competitive French trio led by captain Thierry Dusautoir.

The New Zealand skipper admitted a 14-test year was too long for the All Blacks, who began Super 14-preseason matches in January, but with money doing the talking their complaints appeared fruitless.

He was uncertain whether the test would define a shaky All Blacks season, but a convincing win would certainly lead into the one-year countdown for the World Cup on a much-needed high.

"It's the one you remember over the summer. I guess everyone will talk about it if we have a good performance."


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