Number 8 Jamie Heaslip has stressed the need for Ireland to start strongly when they take on France in Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations showdown in Paris.
Ireland have won just once in the French capital since 1972 and will face a home side buoyed by an opening day win over Italy at the Stade de France.
Speaking at the Irish squad’s hotel near the Champs-Elysées, Jamie Heaslip said it was vital that Ireland do not give France a head start this time around.
“The last two times – not including the summer series – that I’ve played here we let them get ahead of us, and knock up a 10-point lead or something like that,” he said.
“They’re a hard team to chase. We’ve come close but I think they are the team that punish you when you make mistakes.
“So you’ve just got to cut out the mistakes, control what you can and execute your role to the best of your ability. It’s pretty simple when you break it down but it’s easier to say it than do it.”
As usual Heaslip is expecting an open game against a relatively new-look home team.
“They’re a tough team and they play a nice game. We never try to sit back or get put off by the French and that’s why the games always turn out pretty good, pretty exciting.”
Ireland defence coach Les Kiss also highlighted the need to keep things tight in the opening quarter against a French side that is warming to life under new coach Philippe Saint-André.
“I wouldn’t be panicking if they got three or six up or anything like that,” he said. “But they’re a team that doesn’t like a team that just bites at their heels continuously and just keeps coming at them.
“If you get a start on them and you keep your foot on the throat they don’t like that either.
“But look, they’re a team that can do anything from nothing. If we’re loose at any time, they’ll punish you. We need a real tough, strong mindset.”
The Australian admitted that Ireland were hugely disappointed with last weekend’s defeat to Wales but he also said that there were aspects of that game that the management were pleased with.
“With little ball, we did some damage to them but it didn’t win us the game. We’ve got to do other things that make sure we apply the pressure under our terms and make a difference.
“In the first 20 minutes, if it’s 0-0 and we’re applying the pressure then we know there’s a place we can go possibly.
“But if we’re there and we’re 10 down, it makes it tougher. So we just have to make a commitment to ourselves that we get out there and start well, definitely.”