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Carter wary of 'dangerous' France

updated 12:33 PM EDT, Thu October 20, 2011
Flyhalf Dan Carter was part of the New Zealand team which lost to France in the 2007 quarterfinal.
Flyhalf Dan Carter was part of the New Zealand team which lost to France in the 2007 quarterfinal.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dan Carter warns New Zealand to "expect the unexpected" from "arch nemesis" France
  • The All Blacks face France in Sunday's Rugby World Cup final in Auckland
  • France coach Marc Lievremont has named an unchanged starting XV
  • Tournament organizers announce ticket sales have already met financial target

(CNN) -- Sidelined superstar Dan Carter has told his New Zealand teammates to "expect the unexpected" ahead of Sunday's Rugby World Cup final against France in Auckland.

The All Blacks beat France on home soil in the final of the first World Cup in 1987, but lost to Les Bleus in the 1999 semifinals and then the quarterfinals four years ago.

Carter helped the tournament hosts comfortably beat France 37-17 in a Pool A match four weeks ago before a groin injury ended his tournament, but rugby's record international points scorer is wary of Marc Lievremont's unpredictable France side.

"They're our arch nemesis at World Cup time and we all know the past that we've had with the French," the 29-year-old told the competition's official website.

Rugby love starts early in New Zealand

"They're such a dangerous side, especially when their backs are against the wall and having a lot of doubters. That's when they step up, and they've shown that in 2007 and also in 1999.

"We have to expect the unexpected. The French are the best at doing something to surprise us, so the guys realize that we're in for a huge challenge. At World Cups, teams come out and have heroic performances."

Carter has had to watch from the stands since his training injury ahead of New Zealand's quarterfinal win over Argentina.

"I was pretty gutted the first few days. I guess anger did creep in a little bit because I was just so gutted and didn't really want anything to do with the World Cup," he said.

"When I'm sitting there watching the game I get extremely nervous ... that's when it's really tough, when I see the guys out on the field, because I have a sense of no control.

We have to expect the unexpected, the French are the best at doing something to surprise us
Dan Carter

"I'm so used to being out there and trying to make a difference on the field. I just want the boys to win so badly like the rest of us. Obviously I can't play so I'm going to be their number one supporter."

France hope to lift the Webb Ellis trophy for the first time, having also lost in the 1999 final.

Lievremont has named the same starting XV which defeated Wales 9-8 in last weekend's semifinal for Sunday's return to Auckland -- where the All Blacks' last loss at Eden Park came against Les Bleus in 1994 .

Off the pitch, tournament organizers have announced that the financial target for ticket sales has been reached with two matches left.

Rugby New Zealand 2011 said ticket sales had surpassed the $212 million target set over two years ago, with Friday's bronze medal match between Wales and Australia and the final still to be played.

The income generated by ticket sales has made the 2011 World Cup the largest grossing rugby event in New Zealand's history, overtaking the British and Irish Lions tour of the country in 2005.

"Today's result is a tribute to the hard work of the staff at RNZ 2011 and also a tribute to the way New Zealanders have seen the Rugby World Cup as so much more than just a rugby tournament," World Cup minister Murray McCully said.

"It has been a wonderful celebration of New Zealand and proof that this small country can successfully hold a large and complex event like a Rugby World Cup."

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