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McCaw warns against complacency ahead of World Cup final

By Paul Gittings, CNN
updated 7:39 PM EDT, Sat October 22, 2011
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw faces the media ahead of Sunday's Rugby World Cup final
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw faces the media ahead of Sunday's Rugby World Cup final
  • All Blacks captain McCaw says France will be dangerous World Cup final opponents
  • McCaw played in New Zealand's quarterfinal loss to Les Bleus in the 2007 World Cup
  • French captain Thierry Dusautoir says his team dream of being world champions
  • New Zealand bidding to win William Webb Ellis trophy for second time on home soil

(CNN) -- All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is warning his side against complacency as they go into Sunday's Rugby World Cup final against France as odds-on favorites to lift the William Webb Ellis trophy.

While hosts New Zealand have enjoyed a relatively smooth and unbeaten passage to the finale of the global showpiece at Eden Park, France have been beaten twice and failed to hit their top form.

But McCaw, who was left in tears as the All Blacks stumbled to a 20-18 quarterfinal defeat to the French in the 2007 World Cup, said Saturday that negative media coverage had given Les Bleus extra motivation to spring another upset.

"I've got no doubt the French are going to play their best game and you blokes have loaded the gun for them," he told gathered reporters at the official press conference.

New Zealand and France prepare for final

"They've got players who've been around for a long time and they understand what it takes to win Test matches."

And as to France's indifferent form, including a 37-17 loss to his team and a dismal defeat against Tonga in the pool stages, McCaw believes it counts for nothing.

"In a final it's not about who 'deserves' what," said McCaw.

"It's about who goes and plays the best rugby on that stage, in this game, that's what we've got to do."

The All Blacks, the traditional powerhouses of international rugby, are searching for only a second World Cup triumph, their only title coming in the inaugural tournament in 1987 when they beat France in the final in Auckland.

It's about who goes and plays the best rugby on that stage
Richie McCaw
The Rugby World Cup final from Paris

New Zealand to end 24 years of hurt?

McCaw's French counterpart and rival flanker Thierry Dusautoir said his team were determined to defy the odds after scraping into the final with a 9-8 victory over 14-man Wales last weekend.

"No matter whatever the sport, all kids dream of being world champions. It can't get better than being the world champions and to achieve those dream," he said.

"We showed great strength to get here. There's one match left and we need to prove ourselves."

France's defense coach, Englishman David Ellis, is confident they can repeat their previous successes against the All Blacks and claims to have found chinks in their armor.

"We feel there are certain areas of their defense we can exploit," he told the official Rugby World Cup website.

"There are things that we found out and we are quite capable of exploiting those weaknesses."

But despite Ellis' bold talk, it would be almost unthinkable for the All Blacks to fail to deliver with a whole nation holding its collective breath.

Rugby is the national sport in New Zealand and after the tragic events of earlier this year when Christchurch was hit by an earthquake and the recent oil spill in the Bay of Plenty, many have looked upon the World Cup to lift collective spirits.

New Zealand prime minister John Key had no doubt when asked about the result on the eve of the final.

"I'm thinking they're going to beat them and beat them quite comfortably," he said.

With elections looming, Key will be hoping his bold prediction holds come Sunday night.

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