Johnny Sexton expects a difficult match against France in the 6 NationsReuters
France and Ireland will look to get a leg up in the Six Nations title running with victory when the two teams meet at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.
While France came away with a nervy 23-21 victory over Italy in the opening round, reigning 6 Nations champions Ireland were held to a 16-16 draw by Wales. With the hope of a Grand Slam gone with that draw, Ireland will now hope to gain some momentum by tripping up Guy Noves' side in Paris.
"They are never beaten over there, it's a tough place to go. Just because we've had a little purple patch against them doesn't mean anything now."
That purple patch that Sexton was referring to is the five-match unbeaten streak against France, but Ireland will look to extend that run to six without Simon Zebo, who failed a late fitness test, leaving Joe Schmidt with little option but to draft in Fergus McFadden. Keith Earls is also out, as he recovers from a suspected concussion.
"That's the latest selection and change we've had to make, " Schmidt said of the Zebo knee injury. "Normally we would name the match squad before training, and everyone would be fully fit and have absolute clarity on what their role was and where they were training. It's probably a bit unsettling and frustrating, but we have to get around it."
France have made six changes to the team which edged Italy last week, with Hugo Bonneval, Gael Fickou, Eddy Ben Arous, Rabah Slimani, Paul Jedresiak and Louis Picamoles making way for Teddy Thomas, Maxime Mermoz, Jefferson Poirot, Uini Atonio, Alexander Flanquart and Yacouba Camara.
"We've worked on our defensive organisation to try to counter the Irish, " Noves was quoted as saying by PA. "It will be a difficult match, we hope it will be tricky for Ireland too. We've prepared for this match by getting it into our heads that we have to show more power."
Teams: Ireland: R Kearney; A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (C), N White, M McCarthy, D Toner, CJ Stander, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.
Replacements: R Strauss, J Cronin, T Furlong, D Ryan, T O'Donnell, E Reddan, I Madigan, F McFadden.
France: M Medard; T Thomas, M Mermoz, J Danty, V Vakatawa; J Plisson, S Bezy; J Poirot, G Guirado (C), U Atonio, A Flanquart, Y Maestri, W Lauret, Y Camara, D Chouly.
Replacements: C Chat, R Slimani, EB Arous, P Jedresiak, L Goujon, M Machenaud, J-M Doussain, H Bonneval.
Where to Watch Live
The Six Nations match between France and Ireland is scheduled for a 3.25 pm local time (2.25 pm GMT, 7.55 pm IST) start. There will be no live coverage of the Six Nations in India.
Viewers in the UK can watch the Six Nations match live on BBC One, with the online live streaming option on . France vs Ireland live radio coverage is on .
Audience in France can watch the Six Nations clash live on FR2, while the match will be shown live in Italy on DMAX. TV5 Monde will show France vs Ireland live in USA, Canada and the Americas.
Sky Sport 1 will broadcast the match live in New Zealand, with the live stream option on . Viewers in Australia can watch the 6 Nations live on Bein Sports Australia and, while audience in South Africa can catch all the action live on SuperSport. The match can also be live streamed on .