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Tuesday 12 December 2017

O'Brien: We must attack

Carlow man reckons it's useless trying to contain French

IT sounds like a fair exchange. France get Morgan Parra in for the injured Dimitri Yachvili and Ireland get Stephen Ferris back without a suspension from his citing.

The International Rugby Board's fudged thinking over what does and what does not constitute a tip-tackle could make some players reconsider what they are doing in the tackle.

Not Seán O'Brien: "It doesn't make us think twice about hitting lads like that, no," he said, with one of those deadpan stares that shows he means business.

The Leinster forward is more concerned about France as an overall threat to Ireland's plan to devise and carry out a successful strategy for the first time in Paris since 2000.

"They're such an unpredictable side. They can get through a competition, say like the World Cup, playing not-so-good and they can turn it around in an instant like they did in the final," he warned.

"They could have won that final no hassle. That is the type of lads they are. They are talented, unpredictable players. They can score from anywhere. Every team that comes up against them has to be nearly at their best to beat them."

The Carlow man is adamant that the best form of defence is attack.

He knows Ireland can't afford to sit back like they did for Wales' final, definitive attack last Sunday.

"If you try and contain France, they're going to destroy you. Simple as that. We are going to go after them from the word go and put them under pressure and play in the right areas of the field," he said.

"Defence is going to be massive. Last week, we sat back on our heels a little too much and gave up easy yards.

"This time, we're going to have to take space away from these lads. They're a big physical team as well. So, we're going to have to get up in their faces and shut them down at source," insisted O'Brien.

Perhaps the anger over Wayne Barnes' controversial decision to award a penalty against Ferris and bin him into the bargain is bubbling underneath the surface.

It was certainly spicy at training on Wednesday and yesterday. "Preparation has been good this week," O'Brien added. "There's a bit of bite in it. Lads are getting on to each other about standards. That's good. The right attitude is there."

As expected, Munster's Keith Earls returns in the outside centre slot, while Fergus McFadden slips to the wood and Dave Kearney right out of the squad. This is the only alteration to the side.

Verdict: France

France: M Medard; V Clerc, A Rougerie, W Fofana, J Malzieu; F Trinh-Duc, M Parra; J-B Poux, D Szarzewski, N Mass, P Pape, Y Maestri, T Dusautoir (capt), I Harinordoquy, L Picamoles.

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, K Earls, G D'Arcy, A Trimble; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell (capt), S Ferris, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.

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