New Zealand’s Pool A rivals France are in action Saturday when they take on Japan in Auckland.
Although Les Bleus should not face too many difficulties in racking up their first win this edition, Marc Lievremont’s men are not taking lightly a Japan side they know little about.
The only time they have met at the World Cup was in 2003 when France won 51-29.
France skipper Thierry Dusatoir said: “We don’t have a clear idea of this team. We don’t know how dangerous they are, they have won the Pacific Cup but they faced teams that did not have their best players, so we don’t know where this team is right now.”
Japan’s most dangerous weapon comes in the form of their coach John Kirwan.
The former All Black, who is regarded as one of the country’s all time greats, is hoping to continue the side’s momentum from the 2007 edition where Japan drew with Canada breaking a 16-year, 13-match losing streak.
But Kirwan admits the French will be tougher opposition.
“We expect them to play an expensive champagne rugby, so we will play our style of rugby. You know I think the greatest thing about 2007 was the round robins and I expect that to happen right through the tournament this time.”
With France and New Zealand overwhelming Group A favourites, Kirwan has repeatedly said 2019 hosts Japan will instead look to pick up their points off Tonga and Canada who they play on 21 September and 27 September respectively.
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