France's best undergo NZ rugby examination

Nov 8, 2017 - 6:01 PM The rebuilding of French rugby begins this week as far as national coach Guy Noves is concerned, with a three-pronged New Zealand showdown providing the perfect platform.

Noves is earning his money, preparing a giant group of players while taking stock of an uncanny number of injuries to strike his first-choice Test personnel

On Friday a group of the country's best young professionals in the guise of the French Barbarians take on the Maori All Blacks in Toulouse.

One day later is the All Blacks-France Test in Paris before a clash on Tuesday in Lyon, again involving the All Blacks.

Some confusion reigns over the status of the midweek match, with the home side simply being labelled "France" in the promotional material, suggesting it is being regarded as a Test.

Noves has already indicated that Tuesday team will feature a number of experienced internationals who aren't playing in Saturday's Test.

The All Blacks insist the agreement was for a non-Test and are treating it as such.

Either way, Noves will split a 46-man training squad in half to play the two games and says he'll get equal value for both as he begins building towards the next two World Cups.

"We expect players to invest, to play for their future. It's up to them to show us what they have in the engine," Noves said in a translated interview on the French Rugby website.

"Three matches and three totally different teams. The Barbarians will be made up of 99 per cent young players preparing for the future.

"For the other two games, there will be 46 players we will see evolve, nearly 70 in all on all three dates."

The veteran coach, who enjoyed a long and decorated career in charge of Toulouse, has a reputation to restore.

Consistency has been a struggle since taking charge of Les Bleus after the 2015 World Cup, having fashioned an unflattering seven win-11 loss record.

The best showing on his watch was the compelling 24-19 loss to the All Blacks a year ago.

Gains made then seemed to evaporate on a tour of South Africa in June when they lost all three Tests handsomely.

Noves said self-belief was missing against the Springboks and he wanted to see it back this week.

"I want to see the players have confidence in their abilities," he said.

"Beyond the results, which I hope are positive, I want to see the guys go back to their clubs in late November with certainty on what they must do to reach the highest level.

"There is nothing worse than a group that doubts."

Source: AAP

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