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Saturday, November 6, 1999 Published at 15:19 GMT

Slack warns of 'unorthodox' French

Australian centre Tim Horan will be a key player on the day

Australia's defence will have a tough task confining France's mercurial wingers, according to former Aussie skipper Andrew Slack.

Former Aussie captain Andrew Slack: "If they give the French a sniff they will be in danger"
The Wallabies have been forced to dramatically re-think their tactics after expecting to run into old rivals New Zealand in the final.

Philipe Bernat-Salle and Christophe Dominici enjoyed a spectacular rout of the All Blacks in a memorable match.

"I do not think it is any secret that Rod McQueen had planned to mett the All Blacks," Slack told BBC Wales.

"The French threw the spanner in the works.

"It has been quite a task for the Wallabies team management just to organise how the will play the French."

[ image: French try hero Phillipe Bernat-Salle]
French try hero Phillipe Bernat-Salle
The spirited Gallic comeback from 24-10 down in last Sunday's semi-final was certainly the best game of this tournament.

France's tactical mastery in the second half stunned New Zealand and Slack believes the Australian defence must learn from that game to get to grips with their opponents.

In their previous five World Cup games, though, Australia have only conceded one try - that was in an understrength encounter against the USA.

Slack warned that Australia must be careful to counter the "unorthodox stuff" their opponents can conjure up.

'Laissez faire'

"France are not so structured, they are more laissez faire," he explained.

"I think we will find they will try to kick early and break up our defence and spread it around.

"Australia will not go into the game planning to miss tackles. Joe Roth described the French wingers as like trying to grab greasy pigs.

"If they give France a sniff they will be in danger."

Slack added: "Obviously, the Australians are confident in their defensive capacity.

"Australia feel if they play to their strengths they will win the game."

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Rugby World Cup 1999
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