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In The Press: Ireland v France

In The Press: Ireland v France

Meville On France Without Jauzion…Duffy: Listen For “The Fields”…Ireland Must Use Maul, Says Lenihan…Big Performances Called For – Thornley…Murphy: Players Are Busting A Gut…

NIGEL MELVILLE, former England scrum half and Gloucester director of rugby (The Guardian): “(Against Scotland last weekend) Ludovic Valbon took a lot of flak for the misfiring French midfield, but I think the Brive man, winning only his third cap, merely received compound interest on poor investment earlier down the line and that Sunday showed more than ever how much the French midfield depends on Yannick Jauzion.

“With Jauzion at number 12, the Toulouse midfield quartet (Jauzion, Florian Fritz, Frederic Michalak and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde) works with consistency (an important word) for France. He’s big and strong and we are particularly attracted to the way he breaks tackles or stands up in contact and yet, despite so much physical attention, still offloads the ball with the softest of hands.

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“What we don’t see, until he’s missing, is the mess he clears up when Michalak either has a flight of fancy or simply gets things wrong. Last Sunday there was no one around to do the job.”

GAVIN DUFFY, Harlequins and Ireland centre/winger (The Mayo News): “Ireland will rightfully believe that they can – and will – only improve (on last weekend’s win) for the visit to Paris. Of course, following defeat to Scotland on Sunday, the French will also believe that they can only but improve. In fact, like Ireland, they will demand an improvement.

“Whereas Ireland edged victory, even if in an unconvincing manner, the French looked dazed and confused when ambushed by the Scots at Murrayfield. Scotland were fully deserving of their victory. They played with passion, pace and with a sense of energy and freedom that seemed to have been lacking during the last couple of seasons. Sure, they made mistakes but they kept taking the game to the French, especially up front where their forwards were immense throughout, using the maul to great effect.

“If Ireland can compete as well with the French pack and starve their backline of decent go-forward ball, it’s not hard to imagine the partisan home crowd becoming increasingly frustrated with Les Bleus. If The Fields of Athenry’ can be heard loud and clear from the travelling support, especially in the second half, it will be a sign that Ireland are very much in the game!”

**Gavin Duffy is playing at full-back for Ireland ‘A’ against France ‘A’ tonight in Limoges**

DONAL LENIHAN, former Ireland lock, captain and team manager (The Irish Examiner):“With the quality that France have called into their squad, you can be sure their bench will be fully utilised in the second half on Saturday.

“By way of contrast, with the exception of Donncha O’Callaghan and Andrew Trimble, Ireland’s bench lacks real game-breakers. Hence only one substitute was introduced against Italy. This could have a major bearing on Saturday’s outcome.

“For Ireland to have any hope of success in Paris, the forwards must attack the French up front with the same intensity Munster displayed against Sale.

“In this respect Scotland showed the way with the positive return they generated throughout the game from their driving maul. If anything, Ireland are stronger in this department but must put it to good use from the start.

“Defensively, Ireland also need to be far more aggressive and deny the French space. (Frederic) Michalak must attract the attention of Ireland’s back row early and often. The hangover from the successful Heineken Cup outings should be well and truly over.”

GERRY THORNLEY, Rugby Correspondent (The Irish Times): “Some players will need to step up their performance levels more than most, notably Malcolm O’Kelly and Simon Easterby, who had subdued games against the Italians. They are both vastly experienced players of course, capable of rising to a challenge such as this, and throughout his record 76-cap career, O’Kelly has shown us the bigger the game, the bigger his game. For his and Ireland’s sake, that needs to be the case this Saturday.

“In terms of confidence, France are capable of swinging from one extreme to the other in the course of one match, never mind from one week to the next and in subscribing to the popular “backlash” theory doing the rounds, (Eddie) O’Sullivan doesn’t expect France to commit as many turnovers (26) as they did in losing to Scotland.”

GEORDAN MURPHY, Leicester, Ireland and Lions full-back/winger (BBC Sport Online): “The players are bursting to get out onto the pitch again. We want to get things right.

“Facing France is not daunting, but it is a tough place to go. They were the form side in the autumn internationals and are one of the top teams in the world. Their defeat to Scotland could make them even more dangerous.”

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