World Cup Preview: New Zealand v France

The World Cup visits France on Friday as New Zealand face ‘Les Chanticleers’ in the first of the second round of matches.

The Parc des Sports, Avignon is the venue for what should be another tough game for the Kiwis, following their bruising clash with Samoa last Sunday.

Full-back Kevin Locke, who is set for his tournament bow in the fixture, says that there is still plenty of improving to do after the 42-24 victory.

He said, “I thought we were going pretty well in the first half, but we slowed down in the second half and allowed Samoa too many tries.

“They got one before half time, and then got a few in the second half and it gave them a lot of confidence and you can’t afford to let that happen against a side like that.

“After the game, the coach wasn’t too happy about our performance, but luckily the boys held on to win and we’ll take that and work upwards from there.”

France, who will be hoping for big support from the partisan crowd, also claimed maximum points in their opening fixture, after surviving a last-minute penalty goal attempt to beat Papua New Guinea 9-8.

Prop Olivier Elima believes that coming through that tough match was ideal preparation for playing the defending champions.

“It was like playing against trees. You get one, and then you get the other ones coming even quicker and harder at you.

“We did some bad things in the PNG game and kept thinking positive – that was a big change for us and it showed in the hard times in the game, like in the second half, but we kept working and I was really proud of the boys.”

Sonny Bill Williams and hat-trick scoring winger Manu Vatuvei are among the New Zealand players to be rested, whilst in the France 19 there is no William Barthau or Clint Greenshields.

Verdict: New Zealand should be to strong, even though it is practically a home game for France – NZ by 20.

New Zealand 19-man squad: Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Greg Eastwood (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Kieran Foran (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Bryson Goodwin (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Josh Hoffman (Brisbane Broncos), Krisnan Inu (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Shaun Johnson (New Zealand Warriors), Sam Kasiano (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Kevin Locke (New Zealand Warriors), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (New Zealand Warriors), Ben Matulino (New Zealand Warriors), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Sydney Roosters), Frank Pritchard (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Elijah Taylor (New Zealand Warriors), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters).

France 19-man squad: Jean Philippe Baile (Catalans Dragons), Andrew Bentley (Toulouse Olympique XIII), Kane Bentley (Toulouse Olympique XIII), Thomas Bosc (Catalans Dragons), Remi Casty (Catalans Dragons), Vincent Duport (Catalans Dragons), Olivier Elima (Catalans Dragons), Morgan Escare (Catalans Dragons), Theo Fages (Salford Red Devils), Jamal Fakir (Catalans Dragons), Benjamin Garcia (Brisbane Broncos), Kevin Larroyer (Catalans Dragons), Antoni Maria (Catalans Dragons), Gregory Mounis (Catalans Dragons), Eloi Pelissier (Catalans Dragons), Sebastian Raguin (St Esteve XIII Catalan), Mickael Simon (Catalans Dragons), Cyril Stacul (FC Lezignan XIII), Frederic Vaccari (Catalans Dragons).

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