Fabien Galthie: ‘The Irish won't change their organisation because of two players’

Fabien Galthie: ‘The Irish won't change their organisation because of two players’

France head coach Fabien Galthie

France head coach Fabien Galthie insisted Les Bleus are ready for the unexpected after Ireland's Andy Farrell sprang a Six Nations selection surprise.

Galthie admitted France - looking for their first win in Dublin on Sunday since 2011 - would have to make some changes to cope with the different playing styles of Jamison Gibson-Park and Billy Burns.

"We just read [about] that - we will have to adapt," he said, after the Ireland squad was released minutes before the French squad announcement. "Honestly, we thought Sexton would pass return-to-play protocols and be fit to start.

"We wish him the fastest recovery possible and a prompt return to action.

"Gibson-Park does not have the same profile as Murray, but he has the same technical background, notably a very precise kicking game. But he is more lively, he carries more. He likes to challenge defences.

"He is a less classic scrum-half than Conor Murray. It will be necessary to control him at the edge of the rucks. At 10, Burns also likes carrying the ball more than Sexton."

But Galthie said France would not have changed their selection plans even if they had known Sexton, Murray, and second row James Ryan were not available for Ireland.

"We built our team in relation to us and in relation to the organisational profile of our opponent. The Irish are not going to change their organisation because two players are not playing.

"It modifies small aspects ... But we have prepared options, small adjustments.

"Performance is all about the detail at this level. We are prepared for any conditions.

"You have to be prepared for any challenge, anywhere and against anyone, to respond to chaos with as much force as possible. Above all, you have to prepare for the unexpected."

France have beefed up their squad, making two changes to the starting XV and three more on the bench in expectation of a hard-fought, high bomb, no-quarter-given encounter.

Galthie bent his own guideline not to tinker with a winning side, as he decided Damian Penaud should get his first international start since March. The Clermont winger's aerial ability gave him the nod over Teddy Thomas, who swaps to a 'finishers' role on the bench after his two tries and one assist last week against Italy.

"Teddy had a very good match in Rome, he performed very well," Galthie said. "The Penaud option will allow us to respond to the areas of play where [we expect] the Irish will take us - around the fringes and in the air."

In another matchday role-reversal, the combative Anthony Jelonch adds jackalling beef to the backrow from the first whistle, in place of another try-scorer last weekend, Dylan Cretin.

Three more changes to the France squad come on the bench, with props Uini Atonio and Hassane Kolingar adding late-game heft in the front row in place of Dorian Aldegheri and the injured Jean-Baptiste Gros.

Anthony Bouthier comes in for Louis Carbonel, leaving France without specialist fly-half cover - though it is a position the Montpellier player, who has played all his international rugby at 15, has covered in the past.

Galthie said: "Anthony covers the positions of 10 and back. We imagine Dulin will be very busy dealing with high bombs - a very precise and very powerful pressure game. We therefore preferred to place on the bench a fullback who can play 10 rather than switch back an out-half. In addition, Anthony gives us options with his left foot."

And the coaches expect those players on the bench to step up a week after watching France lose rhythm and cohesion in the closing quarter against Italy. "Everything will count," team manager Raphael Ibanez said. "We worked on this composition and, in particular, on the eight finishers who will have a crucial role. We want to involve all the players, without distinction, so that they can, in matches and in training, soak up the project in order to be operational as soon as we call on them."

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