Joe Moody's arrival from New Zealand as a replacement for Tony Woodcock means the All Blacks are back to full fitness as they prepare for their date with destiny against France.

A day after they watched Ireland beat France 24-9 at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium to send the Tricolours into another quarter-final against them at the same venue, the day dawned bright and clear at their Swansea base and their moods were a perfect fit.

They are excited about playing France - mainly because they are confident in their game plan and ability to rise to the occasion, both of which failed them eight years ago in their quarter-final exit against their old World Cup enemy.

Skipper Richie McCaw and prop Charlie Faumuina took full part in training today after respective thigh and hamstring issues, and now it's all the coaches can do to keep the growing levels of excitement in check.


"Quite frankly, we can't wait," assistant coach Ian Foster said.

Pool play is over, the quarter-final teams are set, and All Blacks coach is acutely aware that lose in Cardiff the AB's will be back in New Zealand within a week licking their wounds and awaiting the next world cup opportunity in Japan.

The question that Foster was expecting - about the ghosts of 2007, a campaign he was not involved in - came from a French journalist about three minutes into the press conference at Swansea University.

Yes, the French - who were outplayed by a more passionate Irish team - are unpredictable, but there is no way the All Blacks are taking anything for granted this time, was the gist of his reply.

The All Blacks captain Richie McCaw might be 'superman' in the opinion of his long time friend Dan Carter, but the sooner he stops being the 'water-boy' and gets back playing the better.

"We prepare every week to play a team at their best and we're expecting them to be as excited and as hungry as we are," Foster said. "That's what finals rugby is all about isn't it. They're big occasions and that's what we want.

"There's a lot of respect between the two nations. They're a proud nation with a very proud history. They've done extremely well at Rugby World Cups so we're under no illusions about how tough this game is going to be.

"The challenge now is to make sure we settle down and stay clear and that's not just the coaches, that's the whole group. Sometimes when you get into big occasions like this and you're at that big game you really want to be at, it's easy to let the emotion and everything take over and you miss some detail. We're working hard to, I guess, not suppress it, but to control those feelings of excitement."

The noise at pitch-side in the match between the French and Irish stayed at a quite incredible level from the moment both teams walked down the players' tunnel.

There was a respite only when both sets of supporters went away into the Cardiff night - those in green happy at having seen an incredibly committed performance which will pit their team against Argentina in the same city in their quarter-final on Monday morning, and the French at having seen an ordinary performance from theirs but safe in the knowledge they would be playing the All Blacks on Sunday morning.


Those French fans will outnumber their All Blacks' counterparts, but that's something Foster's men are used to in these parts.

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"Probably closer to the time we will [talk to team about noise levels]," Foster said.

"Certainly you could feel the atmosphere [on TV] last night. It was great. Between the Irish and the French there were two fantastic sets of supporters. Every time we come over here to the UK you're in a big stadium and it's a big occasion. In some ways we're used to having a crowd that's loud and against us. And to be honest there's probably going to be a few more Kiwis cheering for us than normal."

- Patrick McKendry in Swansea