France have to deliver perfect game: Bonnaire
Julien Bonnaire has taken stock of France's World Cup final prospects against New Zealand, and admitted: “We need a perfect game.”
France have reached the tournament's showpiece conclusion despite a campaign riddled by reports of rifts between players and coach Marc Lievremont, and pool stage defeats to New Zealand and Tonga.
They knocked out a lethargic England team in the quarter-finals, and then struggled to subdue semi-final opponents Wales 9-8, despite Wales playing for more than an hour with 14 men after captain Sam Warburton was sent off.
Les Bleus have also encountered widespread criticism for showing a lack of adventure with their playing style under Lievremont, but by hook or by crook, they are one win away from lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy.
“We know we are far from being favourites, given our level of the game at the moment,” flanker Bonnaire said.
“We have a small chance here and we need to take it. We will need a perfect game.
“There is a great deal of desire, and we have worked hard to get to where we are.
“We may not have done things as well defensively, but there is a great deal of solidarity on the team and we have done what we needed to do to reach this level. We need to enjoy the moment.
“They (New Zealand) are all great players, and not just the back-row, it's the team as a whole.
“They are tough in terms of impact and they have solid defence. They have it all, and good for them. They will be everywhere on the pitch.
“We need to put them under pressure, we can't let them take control, but we should not be afraid of winning.
“We have great qualities ourselves, and we can't give up at all until the last minute.”
If France did not know the size of their task, then one look at the video of New Zealand's semi-final masterclass against Australia would provide all the confirmation required about what awaits them.
And Les Bleus forwards coach Didier Retiere said: “We saw the match against Australia, and we know they will be strong in their scrummaging and it will be a great challenge.
“They (New Zealand) are a consistent team, a reactive team and we must remain aggressive. That is really the size of the challenge we are facing.
“We need to put in our best performance, and it is an issue of working together as a team. That is our objective.
“I think that when you concede three tries against the All Blacks (as France did in the pool game), even my grandmother would have known to work on those areas.
“We have to get our defence in line and we can't leave any doors open.”