21 Sep 2011

Read expects tough French pack despite so-called "B" team

7:55 am on 21 September 2011

France may be arguably resting up to six first-choice players against New Zealand but top All Blacks forward Kieran Read doesn't think they'll be any easier to beat on Saturday night.

French coach Marc Lievremont has left out his entire top front row and benched key number eight Imanol Harinorduquy and star hooker William Servat, in a move many pundits say is devaluing a much-hyped World Cup game.

Accusations are flying that the French want to lose at Eden Park, in order to avoid Australia or South Africa in the knockout phases and instead face familiar European opposition en route to the final - but New Zealand number eight Read expects a tough physical battle up front anyway.

Read says France always play a heavy style up front which is where they traditionally gain dominance - in the scrums and lineouts, so the All Blacks will have to be ready to counter them in those setpieces.

Read's declared he will train fully next week and be ready for selection against Canada in the All Blacks' last pool game in Wellington next Sunday.