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Scrum dominance will be key - Mas

Nicolas Mas has put France on full alert for a fearsome challenge from the New Zealand pack in Sunday's World Cup final at Eden Park.

And Mas has no doubt that meeting the All Blacks' scrum threat head on will be key towards Les Bleus causing a possible upset. Many pundits believe the French will be little more than cannon fodder for a New Zealand team that has already beaten them comfortably in the tournament's pool phase.

France, though, can recount recent World Cup history for motivation, having knocked the All Blacks out of the 1999 and 2007 competitions. France tightehad prop Mas said: "New Zealand have great impact at the scrum and you have to meet them. We need to be able to meet them in the scrum if we are going to be able to play. We have the whole match to do this."

He added: "As usual in their plays, it is the players managing to set up the ball and the players doing their job, and we have noticed since the beginning of the competition that the All Blacks produce great performances up front. Their performance in the forwards set up the semi-final win against Australia."

France struggled in the scrums when New Zealand beat them 37-17 last month, and Mas added: "They have a strong scrum - they put a lot of time and effort into it.

"They are used to coming in strong and coming in fast. The difficulty in playing against them is meeting their speed. They do not give you much time to move them, and then they free the ball up very quickly. Two teams want to win, and they will do everything in their power to win - that is the aggression and the passion. There will be a huge amount of passion involved."

France defence coach Dave Ellis, meanwhile, is optimistic Les Bleus can exploit what he sees as weaknesses in the New Zealand defence.

"The All Blacks have different defensive systems, and there are more weaknesses than we found in the Welsh system and also in the Australian system," Yorkshireman Ellis said.

"We feel there are certain areas of their defence we can exploit. We have also mentioned the (2007) quarter-final in Cardiff (against the All Blacks) and the French defence. They had 47 phases of play at one point, and we never gave them the lead.

"So the French team is quite capable of doing it. They have done it on numerous occasions against different countries. It will be the number one factor in whether we can withstand the All Blacks on Sunday."


From Belfast Telegraph