|Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 11 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
|Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary & highlights on BBC Sport website & app
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell says his side “must have clear understanding of the clarity of the plan” if they are to overcome France in Saturday’s Six Nations game against France in Dublin.
The match between the world’s top-two ranked sides has been billed as a potential tournament decider.
Farrell said his side should go into the encounter “fully believing in what we are trying to achieve”.
“We need to put in an 80-minute performance,” said the Ireland coach.
“We need to play our own game and make sure we are courageous to take our game to them and ask questions of their defence,” added Farrell.
“Their defence is very important and breaking them down as a team is very tough. We all want to create ‘scoring’ defences. This is a big part of their game and the personnel that they have to do that suits them.”
Ireland, ranked world number one, are bidding for a record 13th consecutive home win, having started their campaign with a convincing 34-10 away win against Wales last weekend.
France are on a record run of 14 consecutive victories under Fabien Galthie and are the last side to have beaten Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, in the 2021 Six Nations.
They are also the sole top-tier side Farrell is yet to get the better of since he took over after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Farrell is impressed with the job Galthie has done – although France were made to battle for a 29-24 weekend win over Italy on the opening weekend.
“They are a fantastic team. I was speaking to Fabien Galthie at the Six Nations launch and congratulated him,” said Farrell.
“They could not have done any better. The way they have played speaks volumes where they are at this time.
“The backroom staff and players have really got something going, indeed French rugby generally is buzzing at the moment.”
Penalty count ‘addressed’
Farrell confirmed his squad had “addressed wholeheartedly” the issue of conceding so many penalties against Wales and were ready to match the physicality of their opponents.
“You win collisions by running into space. You have to be balanced enough mentally and physically to make good decisions. Physicality isn’t just about size, it’s about being smart too and I feel we have a group of smart players,” argued Farrell.
He emphasised the part Ireland’s supporters could play in Saturday’s contest.
“It’s a package. It’s everyone who comes to the game buying into it – and we’re part of that package.
“Obviously everyone wants to start well and it’s something we’ve done pretty well but things aren’t all going to go according to plan when two good teams are going at it.
“It isn’t just getting behind us and getting excited through the good times.
“It’s also making sure the fans feel where we’re at in the game as well and try to drag us through because it’s certainly what our players felt last year in France.”
Three Ireland forwards – lock James Ryan and props Andrew Porter and Dave Kilcoyne – are set to reach 50 caps this weekend.
“I remember James’ first cap and that was special. I remember him going out against a big French pack and taking the game to them.
“Since then, the stature which he’s grown within the group has been phenomenal.
“They all look up to him, whether he knows that or not. They do look up to him. It says a lot about his character.
“His game is developing all the time, his attacking game is developing and his decision-making is developing but he’s never lost those point of differences and that’s his work ethic and fight.
“He’s got real inner strength to show his will to win so hopefully all that comes out on Saturday.”
Ryan and Porter made their debuts against the United States in June 2017, while replacement prop Kilcoyne first pulled on the green jersey back in November 2012.
“It’s special to be so consistent to get to 50 caps. It says a lot about how much the game means to them and how much it means to play for Ireland,” said Farrell.
“Fifty caps isn’t celebrated as it should be – we as a squad have started to celebrate it, I brought that in.
“I think it’s a phenomenal achievement – Dave Kilcoyne to have the resilience to hang in there.
“The resilience he has shown to have a few setbacks but to keep on fighting and coming back stronger each and every time says a lot about him. We’re delighted for all three of them.”