Dusautoir: France are lost in admiration for the AB’s

Thierry Dusautoir may have a reputation as rugby’s “Dark Destroyer”, but the feared French flanker produced his diplomatic face Friday in paying homage to the All Blacks ahead of the first Test.

“Our main problem in France is we are lost in admiration for the All Blacks,” the hard-hitting, relentless tackler said as he reflected on the narrow 7-8 loss to New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup final.

On Saturday, France face the All Blacks for the first time since that nail-biting loss two years ago and on the same Eden Park ground that holds special significance for the Ivory Coast-born player.

“Playing at Eden Park is playing at the best place for rugby in the world. It’s part of the religion for us,” he said.

“At Eden Park, personally, I played a final of the World Cup there so I hope to experience a victory for once, for I think it will be my last game there so I hope I will leave the pitch with a smile on my face.”

The 31-year-old, who has started in 58 of his 59 internationals and proudly displays his moniker “Dark Destroyer” on his own website, has only two wins to his credit from seven Tests against the All Blacks.

The most significant victory was when he scored the match-winning try to cap a length-of-the-field move when France won 20-18 to put the All Blacks out of the 2007 World Cup quarter-finals.

In the same match, he pulled off an outstanding 38 tackles, two more than the entire All Blacks side.

In 2010 he captained France to Six Nations Grand Slam victory and then led Toulouse to take the Top 14 crown and in 2011 was the world Player of the Year.

But for all his achievements and accolades, he rates facing the All Blacks at Eden Park as the pinnacle of his illustrious career.

“It’s so huge for us to be here to play the ABs. When you’re there it is like playing the equivalent of Everest.”

And despite the closeness of the 2011 World Cup final, Dusautoir accepted the All Blacks deserved to win.

“If I have to be honest, the All Blacks were the best team of the World Cup. We had a great game that day but the best team won.”

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