Kidney excited by France challenge

Declan Kidney today declared Ireland are revved up for a potentially thrilling RBS 6 Nations debut at Aviva Stadium.

Declan Kidney today declared Ireland are revved up for a potentially thrilling RBS 6 Nations debut at Aviva Stadium.

Ireland host France tomorrow in front of an expected full house knowing victory will give their title aspirations a mighty shot in the arm.

Les Bleus succeeded them as Grand Slam champions and with both sides possessing a wealth of attacking options, it could yet be the match of the tournament.

“If you don’t get excited by this, you won’t get excited by anything in rugby,” said head coach Kidney, who confirmed Tomas O’Leary is fit to start at scrum-half.

“This is huge. France are the reigning Grand Slam champions and all the signs are we’ll have a full house tomorrow.”

Skipper Brian O’Driscoll echoed Kidney’s sentiments and insisted Ireland are capable of upsetting the favourites.

While France dazzled in their 34-21 victory over Scotland, O’Driscoll detected enough weaknesses in their defence to embolden his side.

“I love playing on these days. I’ve been lucky enough to play in a few of them and they get better with each year,” said O’Driscoll.

“The harder the games are, the more fulfilling the victories are.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s felt like quite a long week this week, albeit it’s just a day later than our usual Saturday kick-off.

“Things have gone well. In training we’ve tried to put right the errors we made last weekend against Italy. We’ve been doing our homework.

“Everyone is looking forward to being back in the Aviva with a packed crowd ready to cheer us on.

“We respect the way France played against Scotland but at the same time they leaked a few tries and that showed there’s an element of vulnerability there.

“We must try to exploit that and make sure we don’t do what we did last week, instead being clinical when the opportunities arise.”

O’Driscoll will be facing France for the 11th time, facing 12 different centres in the process with only Damien Traille surviving in Les Bleus’ starting line-up. Yannick Jauzion sits on the bench.

Traille and Aurelien Rougerie are his adversaries tomorrow and the Lions centre admits they are respected adversaries.

“France’s strength in depth is huge and when they leave someone of Yannick’s experience on the bench it shows the calibre of player they’ve got,” he said.

“I’ve played against Rougerie a number of times and he’s an extremely dangerous ball carrier and a ferocious tackler.

“He’s got a wealth of experience himself. It will be a big challenge and he’s definitely up there with the best players in the world.”

Neither O’Leary nor number eight Jamie Heaslip trained today but both are expected to start tomorrow following their battles with back and ankle injuries.

“Tomas trained during the week and I’m happy he’s good to go for tomorrow,” he said.

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