Peter O’Mahony has warned France not to expect Ireland to take a backward step in tomorrow’s clash of the vanquished at the Aviva Stadium.
O’Mahony figures France will come rushing out of the blocks after three successive defeats – unthinkable for a French side – but the Irish flanker yesterday promised they will be matched for intensity step for step.
Ireland have had their own share of trauma after two narrow defeats in succession, the last against Scotland probably the toughest loss in two decades. O’Mahony admitted Ireland were hurting but insisted no motivation would be needed.
“We wouldn’t have any special reason for wanting to win,” said O’Mahony.
“To have the honour of pulling on the jersey is and should be enough motivation for anyone. This is the rugby you want to be playing, this is where you want to be with your international side. It [being beaten by Scotland] hasn’t taken away from anything. If anything, it has given me personally more of an appetite, not just at the weekend but at training or whatever.”
The Corkman is expecting to experience a new type of physicality against a desperate French team.
“I think France are always a very physical team regardless of the style they’re playing. You look at whatever eight [forwards] they put out at any one stage and its going to be physical regardless. We know what way its going to be, but we’re not going to change anything we do.
“I think we’ve the best defensive record in the Six Nations so far. I think we have to get to a stage now where we have to back that. Fellas are champing at the bit to get back on the jersey and put in a big performance. Fellas are really looking forward to the weekend and as I said we just want to put it right, you know. I said before it’s never easy to take a loss especially in an international jersey so I honestly feel fellas are looking forward to getting back into it.”
O’Mahony wishes it went better in Murrayfield, of course, but believes his side were unlucky, the defeat coming off the back of a couple of handling errors more than the indiscipline that saw them concede crucial penalties late in the game.
“It’s horrible to take [loss to Scotland] and after the game your mood is probably the worst its been for a long time afterwards. But you’ve got to dust yourself off. We trained really well during the week and its given us loads of confidence. Monday and Tuesday was good. We got loads of work done and today was fine tuning and it really went well for us.
“If one or two of those passes went to hand, we’re sitting here having a different press conference altogether. We need one or two things for us to click, maybe it’s the bounce of a ball or a bit of luck but it will happen.”
Forwards coach Gert Smal was equally conscious that the physicality must be handled in a positive manner by Ireland. He spoke of how France had essentially done a number on the English pack a fortnight ago.
“Well you can see what they did with England because England were in trouble, and England usually have a very good set piece,” said Smal. “They put a huge amount of pressure on England in the scrums and lineouts and they’ve got some bulky boys.”
Smal, however, believes France might well bring a different game plan to Dublin, especially following the shake up in the backs to allow for the selection of Frederic Michalak at out half, Florian Fritz in midfield and Maxime Medard on the wing.
“They will want to get momentum from the base of the scrum and start playing from there.
“If they can get some kicks from deep they will counter from there as well but I think specifically that they’re going to come with a different game from two weeks ago. We know they’ve brought in Fritz and he brings a different dynamic to their backline, so we’ll have to wait and see.”
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