As one of the All Blacks senior statesmen, centre Conrad Smith is doing his utmost to keep his and his teammates' feet on the ground ahead of the World Cup Final against France at Eden Park on Sunday.
While New Zealand may be overwhelming favourites, they have twice been tripped up by French teams that have thrown caution to the wind when World Cup survival was on the line and Smith is adamant that the tournament hosts need to be realistic and confront the fact that they have suffered against them in the past.
In the 1999 semifinal, Les Bleus scored 33 unanswered points to turn a 24-10 deficit into a 43-31 victory. In the 2007 quarterfinals, France booked their place in the last four with a dramatic 20-18 win.
"I think that that is all part of the challenge, part of being in a World Cup," Smith said. "There are stories lurking behind every game.
"What I think is good about these teams is that we have confronted these issues and I think we will confront this one again. We have to be realistic and talk about the fact that this team has caused us problems in the past and that we don't want that to happen again.
"For us we have to realise what a challenge it is and history has shown us that it does not count for much. It has happened to this team before and if we are not to let it happen again we have to be on the money," he explained.
Smith was part of the squad in 2007 and had to watch from the stands as New Zealand's hopes of winning the World Cup ended with Yannick Jauzion's try and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde's conversion.
France's mixed form has echoes of 2007. Four years ago they lost the opening match of the tournament to Argentina before rediscovering some cohesion against Namibia, Ireland and Georgia.
The French were overrun by 14-man Wales in the semifinal last Saturday and had to rely on the accuracy of Morgan Parra's boot to kick them to a 9-8 win. However, they showed in the first half of their 19-12 win over England in the quarterfinals that they can cut loose when the mood takes them.
"They have a lot of ability and something like that makes things easier because you prepare and you prepare well," Smith said.
"There's that element of fear because you wonder what they will bring out. It is all a bit different with the French but certainly with the way they play they have ability and can really hurt you with the ball."
Smith explained that France would relish the underdogs tag and will be very dangerous as a result, while the All Blacks also have to deal with the weight of expectation in New Zealand.
"It is easy for them, everyone will be writing them off and showing them the odds. When you are getting told that as an athlete your motivation is done," he added.
The match on Sunday is a repeat of the 1987 final, which the All Blacks won 25-9 with tries from Michael Jones, David Kirk and John Kirwan.
The teams also met in the pool stages at this tournament, Graham Henry's team winning 37-17. France also lost to Tonga but did enough to scramble into the last eight.
Unbeaten New Zealand will aim to build on a dominant 20-6 victory over Australia in the semifinals in what will be their first World Cup Final since 1995 when they lost to the Springboks.
"We are proud of the way we played this weekend and we want that feeling again," Smith said.
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