Never underestimate France. It's a talking point that has surrounded the All Blacks for many years and this three match series should be no different.
There is a resurgence in French rugby if their Six Nations results are anything to go by and, for New Zealand fans, the danger has been our expectation of an average France team turning up. But I wouldn't be surprised if they come to play this time around.
Like a wounded beast ready to pounce, the French will have plenty of motivation to get one over the All Blacks following all the talk of our injury toll.
France have a large number of good players and have a wealth of talent to call on. Their talent pool may not be to the same size as New Zealand's but there is still plenty of talent to choose from, and they have managed to pull together an experienced side to push the reigning world champions.
The All Blacks have plenty of reason to be wary of the French -- we've been burned before. Looking back to 1994, France turned up and surprised, winning their first series on New Zealand soil. They became one of the best French sides, and made their names here.
There's no bigger stage for any international side to make an impact than New Zealand.
With the French it is their unpredictability; they have the size, the strength, and they have the flair, it's when they choose to apply it. New Zealand teams will give you consistency to the highest standards year in and year out, while the French are guilty of not always playing at their best.
But when the French finally click, God help us, they are a good side. You only have to recall their loss Tonga in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, they turned around only days later to push the All Blacks all the way in the final. That's just the way they are.
We can't relate to that approach but we can respect it. We have to, they have bitten us so many times in the past.
Injuries present plenty of questions
The injury toll has wreaked havoc on the All Blacks squad throughout 2018, but it's an issue all sides must face, it's just our turn to deal with it. We have a wealth of talent, and we had plenty of practice handling an injury-hit squad last season.
No player wants to sit on the sideline, but with injuries come opportunities, and it's through these opportunities that some players step up and come to the fore.
Although it's a tough time for All Blacks selectors, for fringe players it is an opportunity and I think that's always the way it should be looked at. In New Zealand, players who get an opportunity have tended to grasp it with two hands.
The French series coming up is going to give us a few of those guys.
But we should be wary of giving everyone a go for the sake of giving them a go.
Depth of players has been a luxury the All Blacks' selectors have enjoyed for a long time, but now they may not have that same luxury through injuries. It will no doubt cause several headaches as they look beyond the French series and ahead to next year's World Cup in Japan.
They used 55 players last year, giving plenty of players an opportunity; while they've already called in three new caps this year; loosies Jordan Taufua and Shannon Frizell, and halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi. Five or 10 years ago, burning through so many players would never have happened. But in 2018 it's just a reflection of where the professional game is at and the amount of rugby that is being played.
No. 8 will be one of the points of interest in the selection in the wake of Kieran Read's absence. It would seem unlikely that Jordan Taufua, having missed the last couple of weeks with injury, would start the first Test. You would want to give him every opportunity to be fit to play, especially as a newcomer who might only be at 80-90 percent.
But you must also consider what New Zealand might do on the blindside of the scrum. If they were to play Liam Squire at No. 8 would Frizell be the preferred option on the blindside? They do have to give him a chance at some stage and the same applies to Taufua, but would both of them be played in the same game? That is unlikely.
I think they will probably go with Luke Whitelock at No. 8 with Squire on the blindside and either Frizell or Taufua off the bench. And if he is fit, then Vaea Fifita may be the preferred bench choice.
Midfield is going to be the other point of interest. I would be tempted to give Jack Goodhue a crack. Defensively he's solid and reliable and I believe he's a superstar waiting to happen. Ryan Crotty and Goodhue have worked well together for the Crusaders but then Anton Lienert-Brown and Ngani Laumape have to be considered as well. How exciting would Laumape and Goodhue be?