'We're aware of their strengths' - Beauden Barrett says All Blacks ready to face France

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NZN

The man who rescued the All Blacks from a Paris boilover last year hopes a crash course in the French style of rugby will bear fruit.

Young Anthony Belleau is being compared to the All Blacks first-five.
Source: 1 NEWS

First five-eighth Beauden Barrett is gearing up for his first showdown with a northern hemisphere foe when they face a new-look France tomorrow.

Barrett is ignoring the inexperienced line-up named by the hosts, including diminutive 21-year-old Anthony Belleau opposing him on debut in the No.10 jersey.

French coach Guy Noves had his team playing an attack-first policy which nearly unseated the All Blacks in Paris a year ago, with the visitors clawing a 24-19 victory in their final game of 2016.

Barrett expects they'll go down the same path and look to deny possession to the All Blacks.

"It's good to look back on that footage and remind yourself of the style of footy that they play," he said.

"They're exciting players. We're aware of their strengths. They are the biggest offloading team in international rugby and the top three in possession."

The All Blacks youngster has made the fullback spot his own in 2017.
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Last year's Test bore that out, with the All Blacks forced to defend for long periods, including over the frantic closing stages.

France threw 24 offloads to New Zealand's seven and won the clean break count 17-6, racking up a lofty 629 running metres.

A handful of brilliant All Blacks moments proved the difference, mostly notably a Barrett intercept try just after halftime.

Critics of Barrett say the 26-year-old hasn't been as influential this year, which partly explains New Zealand's sporadic performances.

He says winning the physical exchanges will determine whether he or any other member of the All Blacks backline can shine, he said.

"The French like to come out and have that almost bully mentality."

Of concern to the tourists will be a forecast of wet weather throughout tomorrow ahead of the late 8.45pm kickoff.

The worst All Blacks performances this year have come in uninviting conditions.

It was wet for the second Test loss to the British and Irish Lions as well as for their most recent Test, the loss to Australia in Brisbane.

Barrett and his team struggle for attacking fluency in last week's festival game against the Barbarians before emerging victorious at a damp Twickenham.

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