The apparent division between the French rugby team and their coach is part of a plan to ambush the All Blacks on Sunday for the Rugby World Cup final, former England captain Will Carling believes.
French coach Marc Lievremont blasted his players as "spoilt brats" after he discovered some had disobeyed him and gone out to celebrate their win against Wales.
"I told them what I thought of them - that they're a bunch of undisciplined spoilt brats, disobedient, sometimes selfish, always complaining, always whining," Lievremont said. But Carling said such statements were "so over the top" they could only be disingenuous.
"I think it's absolute rubbish. I think it's a big act, because nobody from the French rugby union has come in and said, look it's not that bad. Nobody has said anything."
Lievremont publicly criticised his players for their attitude in their win against Japan and after their defeat to Tonga.
"I don't think it's a masterplan, and I do think he did have a few issues with the players, but I think they've actually thought, let's play on this - use it as a bit of a smokescreen," Carling said.
Carling was speaking after filming Rugby World Cup advertisements with other former players, Welshman Scott Quinnell, Australian Matt Burke and Zinzan Brooke. All predicted an All Black victory, but noted the danger of writing off France.
"This French side, they can produce it. And that's the scary thing ... do I think they can do it in a final? Yes, I do," Brooke said.
But he felt the All Blacks also had the potential to beat France by 20 points or more.
"I've been in England for 13 years, mate, and I'm absolutely sick and tired of that whole choking thing."
Quinnell summed up the difficulty many faced in trying to predict who would be crowned world champions.
"You explain to me which French side is turning up first. Is it the good one, or the bad one? If it's the good one, France could win it."