France haven't got enough je ne sais quoi to beat the All Blacks. They don't believe they have enough firepower and resilience to go the distance.

They'll say they're up for the second joust at the Cake Tin and will project a united passion after banking invaluable notes in their conviction list from their work at Eden Park.

However, as they navigate tonight's last sleep before kickoff there'll be individual doubts about sticking with their hosts in all areas of the game.

France have moved through the embryo stages and are putting the meat around the bones of their craft. It's a tough arena but the best rugby education they can absorb as Jacques Brunel and his group attempt to return France to the premier line in world rugby rankings.
The All Blacks hold that position and like their opposition have parts of their game they want to sharpen as coach Steve Hansen sends the same 23 players out to check on their progress. They are favourites but there is significant heat on their performance.


For 50 minutes at Eden Park they struggled to nut out the game they needed before the rhythm returned with the changes from the bench. The demands will be the same on the All Blacks as they were before the kickoff to start the series — repeat the training ground instructions and absorb the French tactics.

The All Blacks and their staff have more evidence to adjust their plans to combat their rivals but they will be concentrating most on their standards and how they want to play the game. They will be out to impose their plans with liberal doses of reaction and off the cuff responses to fill out their spreadsheet.

Early or continuing evidence of difficulties will bring the attributes of certain players under more scrutiny. If there was pressure on performance a week ago that has risen to new levels for this test as there will be changes for the final showdown under the roof in Dunedin because others in the squad need an international run before they return to their Super Rugby sides.

The Sudoku for those outside the All Black tent will be working out whether injury, reward or dissatis-faction are behind those decisions. Staff and players know how much was not achieved and where they have to tighten their game if they want to have a consistent season.

Those pieces in the puzzle will have been identified and worked through in the video sessions and practical on-field interpretation.

All the thinking and practice around the framework has finished, it is over to the players to express themselves within that structure.

They won't ignore the French but they'll want to force them to carry the worry lines and deal with the problems rather than looking at their own fluctuating uncertainty.

Discipline has been a focus as much for the rookie referee's trigger-finger decision at Eden Park, the French misfortune, the All Blacks escape and World Rugby's nonsensical response.


A year ago, the All Blacks were eventually out-duelled in Wellington after Sonny Bill Williams was sent off for a shoulder charge in the middle of the series with the Lions.

Seven penalties from Beauden Barrett kept the All Blacks in front before the attrition told and they fell to a late Owen Farrell penalty.

That's an experience nine All Blacks will carry to the start line tomorrow night and a memory they'll want to bury with an emphatic display of their ability.