All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock reveals a special tribute on the eve of the final test in Paris. Video / All Blacks TV
There was plenty for the All Blacks to consider after their loss to Ireland in Dublin last weekend and the need to capitalize on their chances was high on the list.
It was an area that captain Samuel Whitelock addressed on the eve of the team’s clash against France in Paris on Sunday morning (NZ time) – the All Blacks’ last test of the season.
Deprived of possession and territory against Ireland, the All Blacks were left to regret the opportunities they missed. It was an area the captaincy team wanted to see improvements this weekend.
“I think we had the opportunity to score attempts and we made it to a point, but at the same time we have to take all the opportunities we get. If we can do that, then suddenly the possession statistics will hopefully be a little bit more 50-50, “Whitelock said of the loss to Ireland.
“I’ve never been worried about the boys’ desire to defend, but it’s easier when you get to put pressure through your own game as opposed to absorbing all the time.”
All Blacks meet a French team that has built up nicely since Fabien Galthie took over as coach after the World Cup in 2019. In 2021, they have started to show signs of how good they can become if they put things together on the day, with star half-back Antoine Dupont at the heart of their attack.
Since the All Blacks and France have not met since 2018, most of the current French team have not played against their Kiwi counterparts.
With that in mind, Whitelock said he had no doubt the French side would have seen where Ireland was successful, and would try to put it into their own game this weekend.
“They’re a smart side and they want to hold on to their strengths, but at the same time they would have looked at the last four or five games we’ve played and they will come up with their own plan. Ball is something that worked for the Irish, so I’m sure the French team will probably use that tactic to some extent. “
The last five weeks have been an important period for the All Blacks, with a relatively fresh face that includes several players who have never played at test level in the Northern Hemisphere.
And with so much being said about the difference in playing style between the teams in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, it has provided vital experience as the squad continues to build towards the 2023 World Cup.
“It just shows how the game of rugby can be played,” Whitelock said of the contrasting styles between hemispheres. “There’s no right or wrong way; there is to go out there and play your style, and if your style is what is expected and what is needed that day and you are successful, it means you get out. on the right side of the scoreboard.
“I think it’s really good for us to get up here, we have not been up here for a couple of years of course with Covid and the World Cup, so it’s good to play a few different styles for us as older players, but also some of the new players who have not been up here.
“There are some guys like it’s their first time in the Northern Hemisphere, first time in some of these amazing stadiums and countries we’re going to play against. It’s something that goes to earth earlier today, you can see people go into a massive stadium with a huge capacity and you can just see the awe they see all around that we had a few years ago. It’s something that is definitely not getting old as a senior player. play some great places and experience some great cultures as well as rugby at the highest level. “