The All Blacks have beaten a French XV 28-23 in Lyon after spending most of the final 10 minutes defending their line.

Locally the mid-week match in Lyon is billed as the second French test. That's exactly how these All Blacks are treating it too.

Three international games in eight days is about as foreign as a beret, baguette and delicately manicured moustache on a Kiwi dairy farm.

But the All Blacks wanted this schedule and are, therefore, well prepared. The majority of this inexperienced team, with six on debut and 140 caps in total, has trained together for the past week.

Advertisement

A squad of 43 players - around 70 with management factored in - affords such luxuries.

Like the All Blacks, the French view this match at the new Groupama Stadium as a chance to develop depth. But even with just 48 hours with this squad, under-fire test coach Guy Noves has also placed a premium on victory.

"I don't so much expect a reaction because they are different players but I expect them to show us which players we can count on," Noves said after the 38-18 defeat at Stade de France.

Noves' team contains several experienced figures; first five-eighth Fran├žois Trinh-Duc and fullback Scott Spedding two familiar faces. Unlike their test counterparts, they should not take 40 minutes to get into the game.

That suits the All Blacks. Their young line-up, captained by Luke Whitelock and with Tawera Kerr-Barlow's 27 caps leading the way, only has three players - Liam Squire, Nathan Harris and Lima Sopoaga - expected to back up against Scotland this weekend. But a genuine challenge is welcomed.

Fringe players they may be, but in-front of 60,000 this will still feel like a test. Anthems will still be sung; the challenge laid down with the haka. And they will have the black jersey on. Most of all, performances here will do much more to influence future selection than Super Rugby or Mitre 10 Cup form.

"Our guys will be thinking it's the second test too both teams are in the same situation," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. "It's very much our second team and it's very much their second team but it is the All Blacks against France so both squads will be seeing it as a big chance to further their careers.

"They'll be a quality side and they'll bring very much what they did on Saturday night."

With no Kieran Read, Beauden Barrett or Sam Cane, Sopoaga and Tawera Kerr-Barlow need to step up and direct.

Fourteen of this squad played against the Barbarians in the opening tour match at Twickenham; all except rookie Crusaders centre Jack Goodhue and Squire, both of whom were struck down by illnesses, have had a run.

Traditionally, second-string All Blacks teams struggle but expectations are this side will gel much better than those against the Baabaas. No-one wants to see a repeat of that scrappy first half.

"You could assume they would go better because of that hit out," Hansen said.

It also seems the All Blacks will embrace their natural flair after being encouraged to adopt a licence to thrill.

While this is not a test in title, there should be no shortage of intrigue. Goodhue is a prospect of genuine quality, and his first crack at centre outside Ngani Laumape holds major appeal.

Dynamic Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua will probably play the majority of second half, with Harris' minutes set to be monitored after the loss of Dane Coles.

And then there is the feel-good story of Dillon Hunt, the Otago openside who emerged from Dunedin's second-ranked University club side to be on the verge of debuting for the All Blacks from the bench.

"He's just a kid who came out of nowhere and didn't have anything," Sopoaga, Hunt's Highlanders team-mate, said. "Now he gets to chuck on a black jersey and run out there with guys he probably never thought he would play alongside. That's pretty special for a guy like that; someone who has persevered had a bit of luck and worked hard."

It's these elements which make this mid-week match, the All Blacks' first since 2008, rather meaningful.

"The team is as united as I've ever seen it," Hansen said. "There's a bit of excitement in the air."

All Blacks:

David Havili, Matt Duffie, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Seta Tamanivalu, Lima Sopoaga, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Luke Whitelock, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Dominic Bird, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Nathan Harris, Tim Perry

Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Atu Moli, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Akira Ioane, Dillon Hunt, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo'unga

France XV:

Scott Spedding, Gabrielle Lacroix, Henry Chavancy, Jonathan Danty, Hugo Bonneval, Francois Trinh-Duc, Yann Lesgourgues, Sekou Macalou, Marco Tauleigne, Wenceslas Lauret, Yoann Maestri, Romain Taofifenua, Malik Hamadache, Camille Chat, Dany Priso

Replacements: Christopher Tolofua, Mohamed Boughanmi, Lucas Pointud, Julien le Devedec, Fabien Sanconnie, Maxime Machenaud, Jules Plisson, Vincent Rattez

Kickoff: Wednesday, 6.55am