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O’Connell Determined To End Losing Run In Paris

O’Connell Determined To End Losing Run In Paris

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell says he would dearly love to beat France in Paris before he eventually has to call time on his international career.

The Munster talisman has played for Ireland against les Bleus on five occasions at the Stade de France, but he has been on the losing side on each time.

His first appearance for Ireland in the French capital was as a replacement in a 44-5 defeat in 2002, a game notable for being Peter Clohessy’s last in a green jersey.

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A win on Sunday would keep Ireland’s Six Nations hopes alive and Paul O’Connell admits that a rare Test victory in France would be particularly sweet.

“Yeah, it would be a box you’d love to tick,” he said on the eve of the rescheduled game. “It is a really hard place to come and win.

“France in Paris are a different creature really. They’re an incredibly tough side and they seem to save their best rugby for here – particularly their best counter-attacking rugby.

“I’ve had enough goes at it, at trying to beat them over here, and it’s always been a struggle. It’s something I’d love to do.”

If Ireland are to earn only their second win over France in Paris since 1972, then O’Connell believes they need to do the simple things well and to avoid giving the French a helping hand.

“I think the big thing is that they can hurt you so much over here off turnover ball,” explained the 32-year-old captain.

“You saw it last week with Scotland and given half a chance they’re very dangerous. So I suppose the thing is to not give them half a chance or give them as few half chances as you can.

“That is what’s hurt us in the past here. It is a little bit to do with being accurate when we have the ball and retaining the ball no matter where we are on the pitch.

“That’s going to be a big part of tomorrow – ball retention. And when we do give it back to them, give it back to them on our own terms.”

Ireland have had very little success in Paris but current head coach Declan Kidney believes that in the past they may have been guilty of trying too hard to break their run of defeats on French soil.

“I just think that sometimes we think we have to do something different when we don’t,” he explained.

“France do come out with their ‘A’ game any time they’re playing in Paris, but we just need to come out with ours as well. We’ve done that before, be it at home or away.

“Instead of trying to pull something special out of the bag, just play our own game, concentrate and believe in ourselves. If we believe in ourselves then we can get a good result.”

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