Gregor Paul's new book Redemption - an e-book exploration of the All Blacks' World Cup win - is on sale. In this edited excerpt, he looks at how in 2009 the All Blacks developed a game plan that carried them through to 2011. They had beaten Wales, Italy and England - but not convincingly. Now France lay in wait.
The frustration within the camp was palpable. There was growing satisfaction with the general work.
But the All Blacks didn't want to be converts to kick and chase, which is kind of what it looked as though they had become.
It wasn't. Shoring up the basics was phase one.
Phase two was coming and, with the winter sun beating down in Marseille, [assistant coach] Wayne Smith, always engagingly honest, had been aware that he and his fellow coaches had been slow to adapt to the pragmatic requirements of the new rules.
They had been talking of explosive power on the wings when it was clear the new core skills were catching and kicking.
They were in the tap-and-run mentality of the ELVs and couldn't adjust. The All Blacks blinked and the game moved past them.
"I think the easiest way to explain it is if you look at the Super 14 and the way it was played with the free kicks and what not, it was like watching a game being played on Mars," Smith said. "And then the tests were played on Venus - so it was a totally different game.
"When France came out for those early tests, we had to go and play on Venus, so we had to fly from Mars. All of a sudden, you had guys who were used to tapping the ball and going instead of setting another scrum - and they were being smashed.
"They were being driven 30 metres by a French pack and being scrummaged into the ground, so of course we were in trouble. We probably struggled for a period getting back to that sort of game."
Taking Smith's analogy, the All Blacks were now residents on Venus; they played that set-piece grinding game and won tests with execution of the basics.
It was a painful transition. The UK media was full of lament, mourning the death of running rugby. There was a genuine sense of disbelief that there was no champion of the beautiful game any more. McCaw, especially, talked of his frustration at the failure to put teams away.
The losses against South Africa had scarred the All Blacks. The hurt of seeing their running game so easily mopped up and used against them was deeper than anyone realised.
The French would present the opportunity to reach the next level - to begin the transition back to being a counter-attacking team.
It was their intention to deter sides from kicking so much in 2010 by successively counter-attacking.
They wanted teams to be scared of kicking to them. There would be encouragement to take a few more risks - so they could live mainly on Venus but hop across more often to Mars.
THERE ARE times when everything feels right, and November 28, 2009 was one of those days. The French were confident, having beaten South Africa a couple of weeks before in a frighteningly good performance.
For the first time in 2009, rugby looked a little bit more like rugby again. There was space and movement as a consequence of both teams moving it and taking risks.
The All Blacks found their old counter-attacking skills and were deadly. They scored five tries and played with width and enterprise but also with a noticeable attention to detail around the scrum and lineout.
It was the complete performance they were looking for and the season could end, maybe not on a high, but with a greater element of optimism about the following year.
Once again [coach Graham] Henry had proven resilient and resourceful. It had taken a little longer to stem the bleeding this time.
In 2008, there had been the drama of two consecutive losses and a slump in form in the early part of the Tri Nations. That had been arrested quickly and the season put on an even keel with the return of McCaw.
The slump lasted longer in 2009 and was harder to turn around. But it was halted; the All Blacks were able to self-analyse and rebuild. They had evolved and dealt with the issues and transformed from follower to leader.
Management had taken a major risk when they were under pressure - but it was calculated and supported by the players.
It was also a risk that proved to be inspired. Henry hadn't been a forwards coach for a long time. No one would ever have known.
He was in his element in Europe. Prior to the coaching reshuffle, Henry had usually cut a lone figure on the training ground.
He'd circle, walk and walk keeping a watchful and, at times, not so watchful eye on proceedings. In Europe, he was transformed.
He'd stand over the forwards and bark from time to time. The intensity rose and the players were on edge.
They were enthused at having the big boss suddenly being there all the time, there were no hiding places. It was apparent by the final week of the tour that Henry had the forwards frothing.
It was equally apparent that deep down, or in some cases not so deep down, the players were just a little bit fearful of Henry.
The old headmaster in him rose to the surface on tour.
Henry, known universally as Ted, was a bit like football's Sir Alex Ferguson; he was fiercely protective of his players in public yet no soft touch in private. He was friendly without being a friend and every player in the team wanted his respect.
All tour, the players were kept on their toes. Henry could be contrasting and complex; there would be the occasional wink followed by him sidling over to a player on the training ground to offer a few words of praise.
Then there were times when he could strip paint from the walls, as he had done in Christchurch earlier in the year.
"He can be scary," revealed Mils Muliaina who was also a pupil at Kelston Boys' when Henry was headmaster.
"I suppose for new guys coming in, he can be. But I have known him for a long time. He can be pretty scary with that demeanour he has but deep down inside, I think he knows he has a soft side.
"You don't want to let Ted down. There is no hiding either. He analyses the game and he tells you how it is, which can be scary."
Even Brad Thorn, the toughest thing on two legs and the All Blacks' one-man law enforcement department, was conscious of how Henry had evolved during the tour.
Speaking at the team hotel in Marseille two days before the French clash, he said: "I am pretty comfortable with Ted because I know what I am trying to achieve and I know what he is trying to achieve, but I think if you were a young guy, you might feel that way.
"A coach needs to be able to talk to his players and sometimes you need to have that presence. A lot of the time it is good stuff but sometimes you need to be able to give a serve."
Redemption costs $9.95 and is available at Amazon and i-Tunes.