Saint-Andre never lost in Dublin as a player — “I scored a try there with only one boot on which was a bit strange” — but he has yet to win there as a coach with his previous mission in 2013 ending in a 13-13 draw.
And he is under no illusions about what lies ahead.
“It will be very intense,” he says. “We need to be cleaner in our handling, more precise and more efficient. Ireland are a very good team. They are very disciplined and don’t tend to give away too many penalties. They are also very confident. They have won eight games in a row.”
There is one change from the team which defeated Scotland on Saturday with the injured Alexandre Menini giving way to Eddy Ben Arous at loosehead while the experienced Vincent Debaty returns to the bench. And Saint-Andre wasn’t apologising for retaining faith with so many after a lacklustre performance in their opener.
“We want some consistency,” he said in Paris yesterday. “We know Ireland in Dublin will be difficult. They are third or fourth best in the world, they are the champions, favourites.
“In my day, unless someone broke a leg the 15 who started would finish the match. Modern rugby cannot just focus on the starters but on the 23. We need players coming off the bench who can bring something extra.”
Meanwhile, George North’s welfare and his future in rugby were the key factors Wales considered before excluding him from their RBS 6 Nations clash against Scotland in Edinburgh next Sunday.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland underlined those points after naming a team showing just one change — Liam Williams for North — following last week’s 21-16 home loss to England.
Northampton wing North has been given an extended recovery period by Wales and he will not be involved in the Murrayfield encounter. North suffered two heavy blows to his head during the England clash, and although the Welsh Rugby Union has said he has been symptom-free in terms of concussion — which Gatland reiterated yesterday — he will now spend time recovering.
Gatland said: “Potentially, he was available this week. He was in the middle of the protocols in terms of the concussion stuff. But we just felt he had taken a couple of knocks last week, he took another knock against the All Blacks in the autumn, and from our point of view one of the things we pride ourselves on is putting the players first.”
Italy coach Jacques Brunel has made four changes to the starting XV that lost the opener against Ireland for Saturday’s game against England at Twickenham. Zebre captain Marco Bortolami has recovered from a muscular injury that saw him miss the 26-3 defeat in Rome and will start at prop. Club team-mate Mauro Bergamasco, also absent against the Irish, will earn his 101st cap this weekend when he starts as flanker, replacing the injured Alessandro Zanni.
WALES (v Scotland at BT Murrayfield Sunday.
L Halfpenny (Toulon); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Clermont Auvergne), J Roberts (Racing Metro), L Williams (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), R Webb (Ospreys); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), R Hibbard (Gloucester), S Lee* (Scarlets), J Ball (Scarlets), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: S Baldwin (Ospreys), P James (Bath), A Jarvis (Ospreys), L Charteris (Racing Metro), J Tipuric (Ospreys), M Phillips (Racing Metro), R Priestland (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets).
* Subject to player completing graduated return to play protocol.
ITALY (v England: L McLean (Sale Sharks); L Sarto (Zebre), L Morisi (Benetton Treviso), A Masi (London Wasps), G Venditti (Zebre); K Haimona (Zebre), E Gori (Benetton Treviso); A De Marchi (Sale Sharks), L Ghiraldini (Leicester Tigers), M Castrogiovanni (Toulon), G Biagi (Zebre), M Bortolami (Zebre), F Minto (Benetton Treviso), Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre), S Parisse (Stade Francais).
Replacements: A Manici (Zebre), M Aguero(Zebre), D Chistolini (Zebre), J Furno (Newcastle Falcons), S Vunisa (Zebre), G Palazzani (Zebre), T Allan (Perpignan), G Bisegni (Zebre).