Key men in New Zealand v France quarter-final
4 October 2007, CARDIFF (AFP) - The key players for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final between New Zealand and France here at the Millennium Stadium:
4 October 2007
CARDIFF (AFP) - The key players for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final between New Zealand and France here at the Millennium Stadium:
During New Zealand's stroll to the last eight the blindside flanker has had plenty of opportunities to show off his sevens-style handling skills in open play where his ability to pass out of the tackle and ensure a fast-paced attack keeps going have been much in evidence.
But Saturday's match under the closed roof of the Millennium Stadium, against the much-talked about French back-row trio of Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir and Serge Betsen, is likely to see Collins who, aptly enough plays his Super 14 rugby for the Hurricanes, to showcase his equally effective role as a defensive enforcer which is another key part of his all action game.
The physically imposing Collins, who stands 1.90m tall and weighs 109kg, was memorably described by Tony Roche, the rugby correspondent of Britain's Sun newspaper, as resembling "a mobile pint of Guinness" on account of his dyed-blonde hair.
Initially a No 8, the 26-year-old Samoa-born Collins moved across two years ago to the blindside to leave Rodney So'oialo in his old position with captain and openside Richie McCaw completing one of the best back-rows around.
The 21-year-old fly-half has been thrust into a key role for the biggest match of his career after just nine previous Test appearances. Not only has he displaced the talented but often fallible Frederic Michalak, he has been handed a key tactical responsibility by coach Bernard Laporte.
It will be the job of the Stade Francais stand-off, unless France are trying to carry off an extraordinary bluff, to kick the team downfield and set up good positions for the team's strong lineout to attack New Zealand at that set-piece.
Beauxis, one of whose childhood heroes was former New Zealand fly-half Andrew Mehrtens, has shown a liking for a scoring a hefty haul of points in many of the key matches of his career to date and on Sunday notched 24 during the 64-7 Pool thrashing of Georgia.
In his first professional outing in 2003, as a raw 18-year-old for Pau in a 29-29 draw with Brive in the French Top 14 championship, he overcame a jeering crowd to kick four penalties, two conversions and a drop goal.
Two-and-a-half years later, he signed for Stade Francais, a deal that owed much to his scoring all of France's points in the 24-13 win over South Africa in the final of the Under-19 World Cup.
But since joining the Paris club, Beauxis has often been cast as understudy to fellow France international David Skrela and the impressive Argentina No 10 Juan Martin Hernandez.
Saturday, with the gifted Dan Carter on course to be New Zealand's outside-half, will see if Beauxis is ready for a starring role.
Subject: French news