Jonathan Sexton should be knee-deep in video of the Azzurri right now but the postponement of Saturday’s engagement in Italy has instead ushered thoughts of France and Ireland’s proposed trip to Paris next week to the forefront of his mind.
The Ireland 10 spent two seasons in the city playing for Racing 92 and has faced Les Bleus 11 times with six of those ending in victory, four in defeat and the other in stalemate. It’s a decent record but this French team will be a different proposition entirely to any he has encountered before.
Fabien Galthie’s side are undefeated and sit top of the Six Nations table ahead of their game against Scotland in Murrayfield this Sunday.
“I think they’re the best coached [French team], anyway, in terms of I’ve only heard good things about Galthie. I worked with [Laurent] Labit in Racing, very organised. Throw Shaun Edwards in there, [Raphael] Ibanez as manager, they’ve got some good coaches there and they seem to be in it together.
“They seem to have a good relationship with the coaches that I don’t think was always the case down there. Obviously they’re probably more inexperienced. Over the years they’ve always had a lot of guys with a lot of caps in there.
“It seems to be working for them, they’re going to be a tough team to play against.”
Andy Farrell’s squad have been left in limbo due to the decision to postpone their game against Italy but the squad is carrying on regardless with training sessions yesterday, today, and on Thursday at the National Sports Campus.
Leinster’s Ryan Baird, who gave a superb performance against Glasgow last Friday evening, has been promoted to the full squad while Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan have returned to national camp after featuring for Connacht against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Eddie Jones threw yet another selection curveball yesterday with the call-up of Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Jack Maunder whose international experience to date consists of a handful of minutes off the bench in Argentina in 2017.
Maunder is not even first-choice nine at the Chiefs and hasn’t started a game for them this calendar year. Another surprise inclusion is that of Mako Vunipola who missed the Ireland win due to personal reasons and wasn’t expected back ahead of this weekend’s game against Wales.