New Zealand and FranceRugby team announcements for the final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup at Eden Park on Saturday at 9pm. Both teams have named unchanged starting fifteens to those that started in the semi finals. New Zealand have made one change to their bench, with loose forward utility Adam Thomson back from injury to replace Victor Vito.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup final will not only be the biggest game of these rugby players’ lives, it will also be the swansong for many, including league convert Brad Thorn who is the heart of the All Black pack. While many are picking an easy victory for the All Blacks, history has shown that anything can happen in a knock out game, particularly with the French involved. Thirty test hardened professional athletes facing off against each other, knowing that the pinnacle of their careers is only 80 minutes away will ensure both teams will be giving this game everything they’ve got. During the game the All Blacks would pay to remember that France always have 20 minutes of white hot rugby in them, and if you get on top of them you must never let up or you may find yourself chasing the game all of a sudden.
While New Zealanders would be heart broken if their team falls at the final hurdle, perhaps the hurt will be tempered by the fact that the France Rugby team have given so much to Rugby World Cups (admittedly at the expense of the All Blacks) over the years, but have never won it. Of all countries to play the All Blacks, they are probably the one to hold them in the most esteem, which is perhaps why they so often lift and play the game of their lives against them.
For once, the rugby world is likely to be supporting the All Blacks, with not many begrudging the form team over the last four years their victory. Although many might take some joy from yet another All Black choke, most would probably rather a team that lost twice in the pool stages did not go on to win the coveted Rugby World Cup.
Sun Sept 23 21.00 New Zealand v France Auckland Eden Park
New Zealand Team to Play France:
Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.
Reserves: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Adam Thomson, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Williams
France Team to Play New Zealand:
Maxime Medard, Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson, Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili; Imanol Harinordoquy, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Lionel Nallet, Pascal Pape, Nicolas Mas, William Servat, Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Reserves: Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Jean-Marc Doussain, Francois Trinh-Duc, Damien Traille.