France firm up to avenge defeat by All Blacks

Following the disappointment of their 44-point loss last weekend, France coach Bernard Laporte is confident of a stronger showing from his team against New Zealand on Saturday.

Paris, Nov 16: Following the disappointment of their 44-point loss last weekend, France coach Bernard Laporte is confident of a stronger showing from his team against New Zealand on Saturday.

Laporte has rung the changes for the second test at the Stade de France in Paris, with seven newcomers to the starting line-up that was hammered 47-3 in Lyon.

Laporte said: "We did not decide to make changes because we lost against the All Blacks, it was a decision made inside the team. Two players left and two others joined the group, one on the bench, and Pepito Elhorga in the team. During this series we decided to make all the subs play in the team. Because as I said before the French team is not only 15 who play, but a big group in which we have to pick players."

Laporte may want to give as many players as possible experience against the best team in the world, but he also has one eye on the 2007 World Cup.

"Yes it's important to lose because they (New Zealand) win (against) all teams for two years and we are hungry to say that is finished because it will be difficult for the World Cup if New Zealand is the favourite and they win 10 months before it is not good for the World Cup. The World Cup is in France and we want for the All Blacks to say it will be difficult for them in 10 months.": Bernard Laporte, France coach.

Laporte has included veteran hooker Raphael Ibanez as captain with Remy Martin brought in on the flank - chiefly to combat the threat of All Black fly-half Daniel Carter.

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