Comments Off on Rugby World Cup 2011: Imanol Harinordoquy rubbishes second XV theory as New Zealand press blast France team

Rugby World Cup 2011: Imanol Harinordoquy rubbishes second XV theory as New Zealand press blast France team

Imanol Harinordoquy, who can’t even get in the France starting XV at present, has angrily dismissed suggestions France are putting out a Second XV against New Zealand on Saturday as the war of words heats up ahead of Saturday’s clash at Eden Park.


The New Zealand media has been reacting to a front-page article in the NZ Herald suggesting France are insulting the IRB, and paying fans, by putting out a massively understrength team.

The article, written by British journalist Peter Bills, finishes by ludicrously claiming coach Marc Lievremont “has hardly gambled with a team selection in four years” before this week.

In fact, very few coaches in the history of Test rugby have ever gambled and experimented so consistenly and extravagantly throughout their tenure than Lievremont.

Harinordoquy was having absolutely none of it at the France team hotel on the North Shore this morning. He said: “People are saying this is a France B team but there is no such thing. There is only the France XV. We have changed our team for each of the two games in the World Cup so far and now the coach has made his choice for this game, the first choice is evolving.

“There is a polemic going on from certain sections of the press. Who are they to say what is the strongest French team? It is not their decision.

“This is a very strong French selection and I am disappointed not to make the XV, but I am determined to make an impact when I come off the bench. Hopefully I will get more than the 10 minutes I got against Canada. I am hoping for 20-30 minutes to prove my quality.

If such a thing as a French first XV exists you would have to say that in the absence, through injury, of prop Nicolas Mas, and with William Servat needing to be managed after a knee operation, they will have their first choice pack out on Saturday.

On current form it would also be difficult to come up with a stronger three-quarters line than the one selected, so any notion that France are fielding a wantonly understrength side boils down entirely to the surprsing selection of Morgan Parra at fly-half.

Fourteen of the matchday 22 have already experienced a Test win over New Zealand, with six of them winning twice against the All Blacks.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has been keen to distance himself from subject. He said: “The French team is a really great side, the coach has picked what he thinks is the best side for the compeition and we will respect them as we always do.

“You could say that is the first time they a have picked that half-back combination but when we picked Richard Kahui on the wing everybody said we were crazy and that’s gone well.”

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