All Blacks v France: Coach Ian Foster says New Zealand need 'fresh legs' for tour finale against French

All Blacks coach Ian Foster admits his beaten-up side are in need of fresh legs - and fresh thinking - for their season finale against France on Sunday (NZ time).

Foster has made seven changes to the starting line-up that took the park at Aviva Stadium last weekend.

With both Ireland and South Africa proving the All Blacks are decidedly beatable - they're certain the French have been watching closely. 

The test shapes a season-definer. Not since 2009 have the All Blacks lost three tests in a calendar year.

With two on the record already in 2021, coach Ian Foster has gone big - before they go home.  

"The team just looked a little off the mark last week and bringing some fresh legs in the team is exactly what we need," says Foster.

Perhaps the most notable among the changes is the return of veteran halfback Aaron Smith, whose dynamism and experience couldn't have come at a more opportune time for the embattled men in black.

Smith joined the squad only last week, after choosing to remain in New Zealand for the birth of his second child.

"It's a luxury being able to bring [Smith] back," says fullback Jordie Barrett. "After 100 tests, I don't need to tell you guys how much of a world class player he is."

Since 2009, the All Blacks have won 14 straight tests against France. But the 'Les Bleus' are hungry for a win and Ireland have provided a blueprint of exactly how that can be done.

"There’s a lot of hype around them at the moment," Barrett says of the French. "They play a big power game. They have a huge pack but they can run rings around you too. 

As former All Blacks flyer Joe Rokocoko can attest - the hype is real.

After leaving NZ rugby in 2012, the 68-test international spent seven years playing in France - most recently for Racing 92 - before hanging up his boots at the end of the 2019 season.

"Very tough team,"  Rokocoko says of the French. "Mentally, they are very tough. In the last two years they've really developed."

That said, Rokocoko is still staying loyal with his prediction for this weekend's clash.

"Obviously the boys," he laughs. "Some of the [French players] from the club are in the team but no, 'ABs' for life."

After an epic 12-week tour,  the final soiree will take place at Stade de France and Foster is determined for his side to depart on a positive note.

"Everyone is aware we’re going home soon, but we have block out that mentality."

Watch the full story above

Join us at 9am Sunday, for live updates of the test between the All Blacks and France