22 Sep 2011

Hansen believes France has picked a good team

4:00 pm on 22 September 2011

All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen has dismissed suggestions that France has selected a second-string line-up for Saturday's key pool match in Auckland.

France have famously sent the All Blacks out of two Rugby World Cups - most recently with their shock 20-18 win in the quarter-final at the 2007 tournament in Cardiff.

French coach Marc Livremont's decision to give usual halfback Morgan Parra his first start at first five-eighth alongside Dimitri Yachvili at halfback at Eden Park has sparked suggestions France is not committed to winning the match, which is likely to decide the winner of pool A, Reuters reports.

But Hansen told reporters he thought the side was "a really good team. Their coach has picked what he thinks is the best team for the tournament. We'll treat them with the utmost respect as we always do."

Ireland's surprise victory over Australia last weekend, as a result of which all the Tri-Nations teams look like ending up on the same side of the draw in the knockout phase, has triggered a swirl of conspiracy theories around the tournament.