Beware French skulduggery - that's my warning to the All Blacks for the Rugby World Cup final.

Rugby may have changed, and with cameras all over the game, players do not want to risk being stood down for long periods.

But France are on a face-saving mission in this final and desperate times bring out desperate measures. The fact is, they have resorted to some filth in past World Cups, including eye gouging, and there were cameras around then. They certainly did it in 1999, and there was probably a bit going on in 2007 as well.

One of their coaches has already said they have been too clean at this tournament. I know this can be taken a few ways, but it just makes me wonder. On one hand I don't think they will, yet I've got to say that the possibly exists of it happening.


If things go badly wrong, France could lose by 40 points. They will be desperate not to go down in history as a disaster.

All the internal disputes, the poor performances, the criticism, might be getting to them and could lead the players to respond in a number of ways. When you go into the jungle, you never know what is going to happen in dark places. I'm talking about stamping on hands and ankles, those sorts of things.

Those sort of tactics are an old-school French way of doing things.

I'm not saying this will definitely happen, but if it does, the All Blacks will need to sort it out right away because the referee will not always be able to see what's going on. It depends a bit on which French team turns up, but the game could explode. As to how to sort it out, well, how do you think? That's all I'll say there.

As always, the game will be won and lost up front and we've got the pack to do it. If the tight five play as they did against Australia, with maybe 10 per cent on top, the French will not be able to cope.

But as we know, it's about being prepared for the day. That's what we have learnt from past World Cups - if you aren't ready for that one day then the rest has been a waste of time.

There have been a variety of reasons why we haven't won the World Cup since 1987, but don't bother blaming anyone else. For instance, in 1991 there were factions around John Hart and Alex Wylie. And while people like to blame Wayne Barnes for our loss against France in 2007, we had plenty of opportunities to win that quarter-final which just weren't taken. A consistent problem has been an inability to change things when needed on the field.

Excuses count for nothing and desire will play a big part on Sunday night. I'm pretty sure which All Black team will turn up, but as for the French, who knows? Will they be the passionate, excited, brave French, or the ones who start strongly and then fade in the second half? My prediction is an All Black win by 12-plus.