Key Points:

It is hard to keep Jerry Collins away from rugby. He is one of those blokes who would play every game he can find. But he also understands why All Blacks want to leave because of the obsessive hold the sport has on New Zealand.

The blindside flanker has no thoughts of joining that exodus, he is talking about staying until New Zealand hosts the next World Cup.

"I want to try and enjoy as many years as I can in New Zealand. I have not thought too much about afterwards. After my time I will probably slip away into the shadows but I will probably be here for another three or four years," Collins says.

Those overseas clubs who had signed All Blacks would be getting a tremendous package from someone such as Carl Hayman, who was at the top of his game.

"He is not going over there to retire - he is going over there with the idea of playing for the All Blacks again, so they will get a lot from him.

"It is a lifestyle thing, because here in New Zealand it is rugby, rugby, rugby all the time. If the sport only involves you for part of a week in Europe, then you will get a better balance to your life.

"It is consuming here and I can understand why guys leave. But I will also not be surprised if they come back in a couple of years. Rugby has not overtaken my life yet - it is still fun.

"Trying to find a new crop of players next season will also be interesting and usually those are good years.

"Rugby is not a chore. Some of the aspects can be a bit tedious but I still have the attitude of a 5-year-old about this game. I like getting out there and playing."

That love for the game and a truncated Super 14 season led Collins into action for his Norths club in Wellington where he suffered a heel injury several weeks ago when he went to step off his left peg as he piggybacked a rival Poneke player and felt the pain at the back of his left foot.

"It was just one of those things," he says. "People give you so much shit about not playing club rugby and you get injured and then they give you shit about playing that, so you never win.

"It could have been worse - I could have broken it. She is pretty good now and I've had a few good training runs on it. It was just initially really sore to plant my heel. I couldn't walk there for a little while, but it has settled down. It is where the tendon attaches to the achilles - it was pretty sore.

"It's pretty good now and, hopefully, we'll put a good performance together against the French this weekend."

Collins, 26, has admired the French for some time and credits their methods for helping him broaden the dimensions in his own play. The flanker has added a range of passing and offloading skills to the bludgeoning power and defensive strength on which he built his game.

France would be a different team this time, they had some handy players, they put up a good fight at Eden Park considering they played club rugby, arrived in Auckland on Tuesday and played a test four days later.

"Someone asked me about it. I said it was like getting chucked into a lion's cage blindfolded with a plastic baton, I suppose. But this week the guy in the lion's cage has got a gun and he knows what the lion looks like," Collins says. There was no way he would be hunting French hitman Sebastien Chabal to deliver some payback for the massive backslam he put on Hurricanes teammate Chris Masoe.

"No way. I just hope he doesn't sort me out as well. The danger is trying to single guys out. We need to go well as a pack - and then you reduce his impact," he said.

France would be settled, having had an extra week to work on their strategies, and Collins said he would not be surprised if a handful ended up at the World Cup.

When France clicked, they were a very difficult side. They used the blindside well and their forwards linked effectively. "When they are on, they make life pretty tough. They are probably one of the hardest teams to defend against because they are all ballplayers, they can interplay very strongly. I don't think we give them as much credit for the things they have brought to rugby.

"Like a couple of years ago you would not have thought a guy like Carl Hayman could run the short side but he can. Those are the sorts of things France have shown us and we have adapted them to the way the All Blacks play."

Collins has tried to incorporate the passing he has seen from the Tricolores.

"Olivier Magne is pretty good to watch, the way he runs his angles and the way he seems to offload the ball before he gets tackled because he is not a very big man. There is the weight of the pass, the sympathetic delivery. You do not see many French players spin passing, they do the old school lobbing pass. That is one of the things I admired but it took me ages to learn it," he says.

Collins is also growing into a leadership role with the All Blacks and last year became the 61st player to captain the test side in the test against Argentina.

It is not a job he covets permanently.

"I don't want to make it a habit. I would rather just play. I would be a good general but not such a good commander. We already have a very very good commander in Richie [McCaw]. If I had to do the job again I would do it, but ...

"I just like to be the soldier, not the guy doing the front job because we have had guys to do that like Tana [Umaga] and Richie. Everyone needs to fit in somewhere and I think I am more benefit and more comfortable doing what I do."

Forget France C, I rate All Blacks B: Castaignede

European club rugby is growing in riches and status but has considerable ground to make up on the playing standards set by the All Blacks, says veteran French fullback Thomas Castaignede.

There has been a mixture of anger and admiration towards the New Zealand team from Castaignede this week, ahead of tomorrow's second test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

The dismay was directed at All Blacks coach Graham Henry, who had accused the tourists of deliberately slowing down the first test in Auckland through injury stoppages and negative scrum tactics.

But after voicing a strong rebuttal, 53-test veteran Castaignede conceded Henry's team were still clearly at the front of the pack three months out from the World Cup.

"At the moment the best team in the world is probably the All Blacks and the second team is still the All Blacks - All Blacks B," he said.

"When you change [Aaron] Mauger for [Luke] McAlister or [Piri] Weepu for [Byron] Kelleher or Jerry Collins comes in - you know, lovely bloke off the field but on the field he's very dangerous.

"Maybe in two games against the All Blacks [our young players] will have learned more than one year with their club."

- NZPA