Bring on the All Blacks!
Marseille - France coach Bernard Laporte said on Saturday that taking on the All Blacks as seems likely in the World Cup quarterfinals doesn't really matter as to become world champions they would have had to play them at some point in any case.
Laporte's rollercoaster period of tenure since taking over after the 1999 edition may well reach its end next Saturday in Cardiff as the French try and emulate their forebears of 1999 and upset the odds against the Kiwis - though, the previous occasion was in the semifinals.
To avoid that scenario - and delay his taking up his duties as French sports minister - the French need to beat the Georgians here on Sunday and take a bonus point and hope the Irish topple the in-form Argentinians and deprive the Pumas of a bonus point.
However, Laporte, said he had always told the players there was no avoiding the All Blacks if they wanted to become the first French team to win the Webb Ellis trophy and admitted that since the opening defeat by the Pumas their fate had been out of their hands.
"Regarding the outcome of the Argentina and Ireland match, well I will just feel totally powerless," said Laporte, who was a useful but uncapped scrum-half for Begles-Bordeaux before making his name as coach of Stade Francais.
"I said to the players 'if you want to be world champions, you have to play them sooner or later!'.
"I am not saying I would have chosen to play them in the quarter-finals, but if you want to be world champions, you have to beat two big teams in a row," added the shaven-headed bespectacled handler.
Laporte, who guided France to the 2003 World Cup semifinals in Australia but was ridiculed when he gave rain as an excuse for the defeat by England to which English coach Clive Woodward retorted he'd been on holiday in France and it had rained, said that France would not be taking the Georgians lightly.
"It (Georgia) is a team that is making progress," said Laporte, who made nine changes to the starting XV that outclassed Ireland 25-3 in their previous match.
"It is good what they have done (they beat Namibia 30-0 on Wednesday and were unlucky to be beaten 14-10 by the Irish). They have some good players and if they are playing in our championships then that must mean they have got some ability.
"We know they will be well up for the tussle up front. It is a team that we respect, but we just have to be ourselves and not worry about our adversaries!"