The 2023 Rugby Union World Cup gets underway with what promises to be a thrilling opening encounter on Friday, as hosts France face New Zealand.
The Pool A clash sees two of the leading contenders meet in Paris, with both teams out to make a statement to their rivals to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
France will be without experienced inside centre Jonathan Danty due to injury, so coach Fabien Galthie has named Yoram Moefana as his replacement.
Mathieu Jalibert and Antoine Dupont are the half-backs, with the influential Romain Ntamack ruled out of the whole of the tournament.
Prop Cyril Baille, who has 44 international caps to his name, is also sidelined for the opener at the Stade de France.
New Zealand go into this clash following a heavy warm-up defeat to South Africa and they make four changes from the team who started against the Springboks.
Jordie Barrett misses out due to a knee issue, but his brothers Scott and Beauden are in the starting 15 at lock and full back respectively.
Anton Lienert-Brown replaces the injured Barrett in the centres, while Codie Taylor comes in for the veteran Dan Coles at hooker.
The other two changes see Nepo Laulala replace Tyrel Lomax at prop and Dalton Papalii makes only his second All Blacks start at blind-side flanker.
New Zealand to win @ EVS
New Zealand have dropped to fourth in the Rugby Union world rankings, with recent performances below their usual very high standards.
Ian Foster’s team fell to their biggest-ever defeat to South Africa, a 35-7 loss at Twickenham, just a couple of weeks before the World Cup.
The All Blacks were down to 14-men though against the Springboks and it was only a couple of months ago that they lifted the Rugby Championship Trophy, for the third time in a row, after winning all three matches.
The three-time World Cup winners will hope the expectation of the home crowd can work to their advantage and will look to put all the pressure on their opponents with a quick start.
Beauden Barrett – Anytime Try Scorer @ 7/2
Although France won their most recent meeting, in November 2021, the head-to-head stats certainly favour New Zealand, who have won nine of their last 10 clashes. The All Blacks have won four of the last five international Tests against Les Bleus by 15, 35, 13 and 41 points.
Les Bleus won 40-25 the last time they met, but it is worth noting that New Zealand still ran in three tries. One of those was scored by Jordie Barrett, who was playing at full back, and his brother Beauden wears the number 15 on Friday.
The 32-year-old, who scored in the All Blacks 24-19 win at the Stade de France in 2016, has 42 tries in 112 appearances for his country.