A perceived lack of respect from the New Zealand rugby fraternity will fuel France in the final Test of their difficult tour.
South African-born lock Bernard Le Roux believes the Tricolors haven’t been given the credit they deserve for their gutsy 26-13 second Test loss to the All Blacks in Wellington.
Le Roux was part of a feisty forward effort which gives France cause for optimism in Saturday’s third Test in Dunedin.
The world champions were knocked off their stride by the visitors, who managed it without sent-off fullback Benjamin Fall for the vast majority of a stuttering match.
Le Roux was unimpressed that all the post-match analysis has been on the officiating and the sub-par efforts of the All Blacks.
Few critics have bothered to acknowledge the vast French improvement from their 52-11 first Test loss, he said.
“I find it disrespectful against us and for them, I think they gave it all and it was a good game,” Le Roux told journalists.
“We had a good game, we put a lot of pressure on them.
“It’s not that they were bad, they’re the best team in the world and we tried really hard to put a lot of pressure on them.”
French coach Jacques Brunel raised eyebrows by axing captain Mathieu Bastareaud and fellow-midfield back Geoffrey Doumayrou.
In their place come Clermont pair Remi Lamerat and Wesley Fofana, whose clubmate Morgan Parra will be captain from halfback.
Brunel insisted the change didn’t reflect dissatisfaction with powerhouse Bastareaud.
“For this tour, this is probably the last chance for us to have a large overview of our squad and see which players will be able to make the Rugby World Cup,” he said.
“We’ve always planned to have (the midfield pair) play on this tour but they weren’t ready during the first two Test matches due to some prior injuries.”