‘No fear’ of World Cup clash in Paris

COACHES Bernard Laporte and Eddie O’Sullivan tried to distance September’s World Cup clash between the teams in Paris from yesterday’s game at Croke Park.

Nevertheless, Laporte was a little more forthcoming as he stressed there was no way he wanted Ireland coming to the Stade de France bearing the mantle of Six Nations Grand Slam champions.

“We mastered the game for almost all of the first-half and then, suddenly, a whole lot of little details that can change everything went in their favour”, he said.

“They made us struggle very hard but what happened at the end will give a lot of experience and a little touch of confidence in the perspective of meeting them in the World Cup.

“As Jo (Maso, the team manager), and Raphael (Ibanez, the captain) have mentioned, we don’t look at this game in the context of the World Cup. It’s the Six Nations and we came here to stop Ireland from being Grand Slam winners because we didn’t want them coming to the World Cup with that status. So our main target, not our only target, was to stop Ireland in the Six Nations. We succeeded in that and we are very happy.

“On the other hand, there will be a lot of work to do because there was the lack of precision and we have to work on that.”

Eddie O’Sullivan looked at it like this: “If we got a shellacking by 50 points, we’d be worried about the World Cup but I wouldn’t mind being in the same boat in Paris with two minutes on the clock and see where the ball bounced.

“If we got a good hiding, I’d say we were in trouble for the World Cup but on that performance I think we can go to France and win there. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

“They’re a good side. They have the best record in the Six Nations over the past while and to win against France a lot of things have to go right on the day with a bit of luck thrown in. Today has proved the case.”

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