France will employ underhanded tactics on Sunday in order to eliminate Richie McCaw and ultimately bring the All Blacks down.
According to Fairfax Media, France defence coach Dave Ellis has made it clear that the Tricolores will resort to some old-fashioned skullduggery in Sunday’s final.
The French know that McCaw has been battling with a foot injury over the past 12 months, and believe that the All Blacks will struggle without their captain. Ellis said that it’s an ugly but simple equation, take out McCaw, and you will take down the All Blacks.
‘McCaw is major player. Somebody will stand on his foot, no doubt,’ said Ellis.
Many have anticipated such tactics, with former All Black Buck Shelford writing in The New Zealand Herald on Friday that the French would come into this fixture with a dirty attitude in an attempt to unsettle the host team. Referee Craig Joubert will have his work cut out for him in a game where everything is on the line, as one instant of foul play could lead to a card and possibly decide the contest.
On the tactic to target McCaw’s foot, Ellis revealed that it was a ploy of the French to attack New Zealand’s key players, and that they had done so before.
Ellis said that the All Blacks crumbled in the 2007 World Cup quarter-final when Dan Carter left the field. Carter had been carrying a calf injury at the time, and Ellis suggested the French had something to do with his premature exit in that game. Ellis also pointed out that New Zealand were vulnerable without McCaw and Carter when France played and beat the All Blacks in Dunedin in 2009.
‘That was one of the major factors in 2007 when we managed to make him [Carter] leave the field with injury. That was the turning point. He wasn’t there in 2009 and neither was McCaw.
‘There’s other key players that if we can get to and influence, that’ll have a knock-on effect. Some of them are their experienced players.’
Meanwhile, France prop Nicolas Mas has hit back at those calling his side a dirty team. Mas maintains that the All Blacks are also capable of some underhanded tactics.
‘They are not angels, either. But that is the way the game is played. It is normal that games are aggressive,’ he told The Telegraph.
‘Two teams want to win and they will do everything in their power to win, and that’s aggression and passion. You can’t mix the two up. It is a complex sport and there will be a huge amount of passion involved.’