Vincent Debaty has won a seat on France’s bench to face Ireland purely because Philippe Saint-Andre expects the prop to extend his dominance over rival Marty Moore.
Ireland sealed the 2014 RBS 6 Nations title with a 22-20 victory in Paris, but Leus Bleus replacement Debaty held a clear scrummaging edge on substitute Moore amid the nerve-jangling closing stages.
Leinster prop Moore has already admitted he is geared up for Saturday’s Dublin rematch, and now France boss Saint-Andre has conceded Debaty’s dominance last year sealed his selection.
Moore is expected to be named on Ireland’s bench for the second-round Six Nations clash, teeing up another last-quarter scrum tussle with Debaty, included after injury to Alexandre Menini.
“Debaty gave his Irish opposite number a really hard time in the final 20 minutes of the game last season so it is logical to have him on the bench,” said France coach Saint-Andre.
“Our bench is packed with power players so we can introduce them late on and they will give the impetus to break tackles and gain ground.”
France have made just one change to the line-up that saw off Scotland 15-8 in Paris last weekend, Eddy Ben Arous starting in place of Menini.
Veteran Debaty has been drafted onto the bench when Thomas Domingo was expected to step up, with Saint Andre not disguising his aims to exploit a perceived upper-hand over Leinster’s Moore.
Ireland are expected to hand Johnny Sexton an immediate return at fly-half following their 26-3 win in Italy, after the Racing Metro playmaker completed his enforced 12-week concussion lay-off.
Head coach Joe Schmidt will name his squad on Thursday afternoon, but France boss Saint Andre has already told his players to heap early pressure on fit-again Sexton this weekend.
Former Sale and Toulon boss Saint-Andre also believes Ireland remain favourites to retain the Six Nations title, with Schmidt’s men gunning for a ninth consecutive victory this weekend.
“Sexton is a stalwart of this Ireland side, but he hasn’t played for 12 weeks and we should really test him early on,” said Saint-Andre.
“Ireland are full of confidence and showed that when they seized the game by the scruff of the neck against the Italians once they were down to 14 men.
“They have won eight in a row and are the favourites for the title.”
Fast-developing tighthead Moore might have edged ahead of Mike Ross at Leinster, but is likely to continue to sit behind the 33-year-old at Test level.
Ross remains boss Schmidt’s only ever-present Test selection, and there is no reason for that to change ahead of France’s Aviva Stadium visit.
Moore admitted he was hit by a harsh scrummaging lesson from Debaty as Ireland swept to the Six Nations title in Paris last year – and is hell-bent on avoiding a repeat.
“I wasn’t happy with my dealings with them last year, so I’m looking forward to getting a chance to right a few things,” said Moore.
“I suppose a year is a long time in pro sport, so as a more experienced player I know what to expect at the set-piece.
“Debaty brings a lot to their front-row: he’s a very aggressive player, very aggressive in the set-piece.
“Whatever way it comes, I’m sure I’ll be squatting down against him at some stage.”