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Savea ready to dish out French pain again

NZN 22/11/2016 Angelo Risso

Julian Savea was just 17 years old when, from his living room in Wellington, he watched France dump the All Blacks out of the 2007 World Cup.

Eight years on, at the same quarter-final stage and in the same Cardiff stadium, he took his own form of revenge by single-handedly tearing them apart.

The 26-year-old Hurricanes gun rampaged his way through the French backline on that October evening in Wales, scoring three of his side's nine tries in a 62-13 thumping.

His second effort of the match, swatting off three tacklers in succession down a crowded left edge, was Jonah Lomu-esque.

But looking back on it this week, as his side braces for another clash with Les Bleus, Savea struggled to put his finger on what quite happened that night.

He only hoped it would happen again at the Stade de France on Saturday.

"That week, it built up and just got bone-deep, and we talked about a few things, the history, losing in the quarter-finals," Savea said on Tuesday.

"A lot of feeling went into that game."

A barnstorming World Cup - in which he top-scored with eight tries and nabbed a winner's medal - later made way for a trying 2016 Super Rugby campaign and eventual return to Test form.

But the Wellington native's touring form has again dipped and Savea remains on 45 Test tries, four behind all-time leading Kiwi tryscorer Doug Howlett.

Likely to be given a chance to end his season on a high in Paris, Savea said the world champions are alert to the dangers the French pose.

"It shows in history that we've sort of had this last game that becomes a banana-slip sort of game, but we've got to park that," Savea said.

"They'll be hurting from that (2015) game and these guys don't forget anything, so they're definitely coming in wanting to rewrite that."

New Zealand have produced a near-flawless 2016 Test campaign, winning every Test except one and successfully ushering in a new leadership group under skipper Kieran Read.

Savea put the All Blacks' dominance this year down to setting high standards each day and making use of the side's extensive support staff.

"It's just about doing the little things right, doing our own roles and just wanting to be the best, so I think that sort of plays towards why we're maybe improving."

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