WELLINGTON (Reuters) - France captain Mathieu Bastareaud hopes his inexperienced side are scared ahead of the first test against New Zealand on Saturday. After all, fear helped a similarly unheralded French team score a shock win over the All Blacks in Dunedin in 2009.
“I was never thinking we’d win that game, because we played scared,” Bastareaud told reporters in Auckland on Friday.
“But for me, I think when you are scared, you play good rugby, you play a good game, so tomorrow I hope we will be scared.”
That 27-22 victory almost a decade ago was sealed with an intercept try by Maxime Medard, the only other member of the current team who played that day.
“We have Maxime Medard and myself who have won here before and we talk about that to the young guys, to motivate them, to make them hungry about this,” he said.
The win in Carisbrook was the last time France beat the All Blacks, who have won 11 straight against them since.
But France are at their most dangerous when underestimated.
Time and again they have confounded the form books and upset the All Blacks when no one expected it, most notably at the 1999 and 2007 World Cups.
Both times the All Blacks had thrashed the French just months before the World Cup, only to have the tables turned on the biggest stage.
France almost did it again in 2011 when, a month after being thumped 37-17 by Graham Henry’s side in pool play, they were pipped 8-7 in the final.
This year’s team are similarly under-prepared and under-rated.
At least six players were unavailable for the tour through injury, others like captain Guilhem Guirado have been rested, while the Top 14 final affected selections.
Just four players from the side who lost 14-13 to Wales in their final game of the Six Nations have been picked for the opener of the three-test series.
“We changed a lot of players during the Six Nations and in November,” the bullocking centre said.
“We need to build the connections between the players, but the problem in France is that we don’t have a lot of time to do that.
“But this group, since we arrived here, we’ve worked a lot ... and we want to show good rugby.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford