5 Dec, 14:49
The Ireland Under-19 squad to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill on Saturday week (December 14) has been announced.
The French come into this game after a less than impressive one point win over Italy last time out, but Haslett believes that nothing much can be read into that result."I found that result very hard to understand," he said."But I think they put out a very different side to the one we'll face today. We looked at the video of that game and I think we identified certain areas where perhaps we might target but as I said it'll be a different story today. The objective is the same for both of us."
Ireland drew with France in Limoges, in the Six Nations game earlier this year, the French going on to finish runner-up to Grand slam winner England. This French U21 side are seeded 6th in this competition and their squad includes such as Marc Baget (Biarritz), Loic Fior (Agen), Arnaud Marchois (Stade Francais) and Anthony Floch (Montferrand) who all have European Cup rugby under their belts.
In their opening game of this championship, the French led Australia 16-9 at half time and in the end only lost out to an injury time Lei Tomiki try converted by replacement stand-off Chris Lyons.
According to Ireland coach Mark McDermott, the French play at this level is not unlike the senior side. "They play a very similar style," he says, "agile pack, very mobile back-row. They're really good in broken play and if they get in behind your defence you can be in serious trouble."
McDermott is particularly happy with the way his squad have conducted themselves."They've been superb. Right from the start the players themselves set the targets. They've worked hard. Their application has been exemplary. They has applied themselves in a professional manner and that has paid off so far. I couldn't have asked more of them and I hope they get the rewards."
The 'reward' McDermott speaks of is a place in the semi-final which will be attained if they win today. After that ? Haslett explains, "You take this game by game," he says. "I know it's cliched and all that but that's all you can do. Deal with what's immediately in front of you. We set out to end up in the top four. We're on course for that. Now we have to secure that and then hopefully, we have to look at setting new targets."
Ireland: A Finn; R Lane, J Hearty, G Telford, T Bowe; G Steenson, T O'Leary; J Wickham, D Fogarty, D Fitzpatrick, D Gannon (capt), S O'Connor, B O'Connor, D O'Brien, J Heaslip.
France: A Floch; J Peyras, P Garcia, D Lison, J Arias; R Lespinas, J Dupuy; A Faliere, B Kayser, G Bergos, R Roque, P Vigouroux, Y Nyanga (capt), G Bernard, M Baget.