France will lift for 'mythical' All Blacks - French-based Kiwi coach Simon Mannix

Sunday Sport 27/05/2018
Photo credit: Getty.

French-based Kiwi coach Simon Mannix is confident the challenge of playing the All Blacks is all the motivation a tired France outfit will need.

Having led Pau to Top 14 promotion two seasons ago, and a 8th place finish this year, Mannix knows all too well the toll the competition's intensity takes on the players.

A regular calendar consists of 26 rounds before it even enters the playoffs, which includes semi-final qualifiers.

The competition's lengthy season means France head coach Jacques Brunel has been forced to select an understrength squad for the first test against the All Blacks, with several players ruled out because of the Top 14 final.

Speaking to Andrew Gourdie and Jim Kayes on RadioLIVE, Mannix revealed the aura of the All Blacks is not lost on French players and fans alike.

"What New Zealanders probably don't understand what the power of the All Black brand and the All Blacks team is over in France and it's [an] incredible, mythical following by the French," he said.

"Any guy who's put on the All Black shirt, he arrives in France and he's got that calling card to say he's played for the All Blacks. It opens up a hell of a lot of doors even if he had a complete shocker.

"They hold it in such high regard, the All Black rugby and everything else - it's the ultimate for them."

The swathe of French players coming off long club seasons would be forgiven for being tentative about the June tests, but Mannix is confident the players don't hold any resentment about making the trip to New Zealand.

"I think there will be great excitement; these guys will put it out there on the field without a doubt, and there's some good talent coming over," he said.

"I don't think guys are disrespectful about coming down - there's an awful lot of respect, without a doubt - and it's the ultimate for a French Rugby player to take on the All Blacks."

"To be fair, look back at the All Blacks end of season tour - their rugby wasn't great either and the All Blacks don't have to put out as many games as the French boys do. They're pretty well rested and yet that was a chore for them, you felt it.

"I watched their performance up in Paris, they won the game against what was a very average French side but it wasn't convincing as you'd like to see as a New Zealander seeing them play over in France."

Listen to the full interview with Simon Mannix above.

Sunday Sport with Andrew Gourdie and Jim Kayes, 2pm - 6pm every Sunday afternoon on RadioLIVE, and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.

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