Wednesday 30 May 2007

New Zealand - France

- 1st test
- 2/6/07
- On tv: 8:00 (K.O. 8:35) Sky Sports 1

New Zealand
1 - Tony Woodcock
2 - Keven Mealamu
3 - Carl Hayman
4 - Chris Jack
5 - Ali Williams
6 - Reuben Thorne
7 - Richie McCaw (Captain)
8 - Chris Masoe
9 - Piri Weepu
10 - Dan Carter
11 - Sitiveni Sivivatu
12 - Aaron Mauger
13 - Isaia Toeava
14 - Josevata Rokocoko
15 - Leon MacDonald

Subs: Hore, Tialata, Flavell, So'ialo, Leonard, Evans, Nonu

France
1 - Christian Califano
2 - Sebastien Bruno
3 - Nicolas Mas
4 - Pascal Pape (Captain)
5 - Julien Pierre
6 - Gregory Lecorvec
7 - Olivier Magne
8 - Sebastien Chabal
9 - Nicolas Durand
10 - Benjamin Boyet
11 - Benjamin Thiery
12 - Jean Philippe Grandclaude
13 - Arnaud Mignardi
14 - Julien Laharrague
15 - Thomas Castaignede

Subs: Ibanez, Montanella, Olibeau, Chouly, Forest, N. Laharrague, Valbon

Okay I didn't know who exactly had made the French touring party south this summer but I was under the impression that their merry troupe consisted of nothing but randoms and veterans.... and I guess my presumptions were correct. At first glance I was taken aback by this squad, I actually recognised a lot of names but then realised that the majority of players I recognised (Magne, Castaignede, Califano, Bruno, Mas) were all golden oldies. Don't get me wrong there is a lot of youth in that team, just not a lot of young talent. The front row, whilst geriatric, is actually quite formidable. Pape is a solid enough lock but I have reservations about the back row. Who the hell is Lecorvec? And I think you may be asking A LOT of Olvier Magne (pictured being old) to keep McCaw contained all day long. As for the backline, besides Boyet and possibly Castaignede I see no gamebreakers or playmakers at all, just a group of liabilities from 9-15.

No real surprises in the All Blacks squad. As usual 1-15 are all unbelievable players. The only potential question marks may be Reuben Thorne at blindside flanker and relative newcomer Toeava in the centre. Thorne has been the target of much criticism in the New Zealand media recently. Allegations of being too old, too out of form and just generally being past it have been levelled at the man so he has an opportunity to silence those detractors on Saturday. On the other hand its good to see Henry pick the untried Toeava (pictured) to start at outside centre. I didn't see enough of the Super 14 but by all accounts, this guy is the shit and I'm looking forward to see him in action against ze Frogs.

Prediction: New Zealand to romp home, by about 20

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