New Zealand will win their quarter final over France as long as they improve their work at the breakdown and scrum and exploit the "suspect" defence of the opposition backline, says Sir Graham Henry.

The 2011 World Cup-winning coach has been in huge demand from European media since arriving in the United Kingdom to head a New Zealand supporters group and has been typically forthright in assessing the All Blacks.

He acknowledged their pool performances had been mixed but predicted they would beat the French in Cardiff tomorrow morning, subject to a couple of caveats.

"They love being the underdogs...they'll be right up there mentally because they're not expected to win and that's the ideal situation for France," Henry told the Guardian newspaper.


"They've got some big abrasive forwards well led by (Thierry) Dusautoir."

He was less complimentary of the French backs in particular veteran first five Freddie Michalak and reserve midfielder Mathieu Bastareaud.

"Defensively I think (they're) very suspect and the Irish broke through that inside channel against them a number of times and won the game there," he said.

"The All Blacks haven't been playing particularly well but that won't be overly concerning them.

"They've got a wee bit of a problem at the breakdown. They're turning the ball over there. They've got a height problem. They need to be lower and present the ball better. And also the scrum has been a bit suspect in the preliminary rounds so they need to fix those two things up.

"I think the All Blacks will play well, I think they will win the game."

Most English rugby scribes are predicting the southern hemisphere nations to dominate the quarter finals over their northern cousins.

The mood was best summed up by the Guardian's Andy Bull.


"Boil it down and the north-south contest reduces to the rivalry between two annual competitions, the Rugby Championship and the Six Nations, and in particular between five European teams and the three southern sides. And to be honest, that rivalry has been so one-sided it hardly merits the name," Bull wrote.

"The stats make sorry reading for northern supporters. Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have won two World Cups apiece and six of seven between them.

"South Africa, Australia and New Zealand all start as favourites with the bookmakers. Ireland have the edge on Argentina, though you can turn yourself around in circles thinking about it, which suggests it is too close to call."