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Friday 15 December 2017

Saint-Andre: We must test Sexton early

Jonathon Sexton
Jonathon Sexton

Philippe Saint-Andre has been called the class clown of international coaches.

Well, this is no laughing matter.

Even the France coach can see that Jonathan Sexton's 12-week absence from concussion makes him a person of extreme interest.

"We should really test him early on," he said.

The breakaway unit of captain Thierry Dusautoir, Bernard Le Roux and Damien Chouly will be sent straight down Sexton's channel. That is a given.

The Irish fly-half wouldn't want it any other way.

His ability to get to the pitch of international rugby immediately will be tested to the limit.

France have been frail away from the Stade de France under Saint-Andre's remit.

A 'travelling bug' has meant they have won just twice away from the comfort of home.

"It is important for us to win an away match against a major team," added Saint-Andre.

A win against the odds of most recent history would form the beginning of a new lease on his coaching tenure ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

"But to do that we have to be more effective than we were against Scotland. Ireland are an extremely disciplined side," he offered.

"They usually give away only around eight penalties whereas the Scots give up 13-14. They 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."

The compliments kept on coming: "They have won eight in-a-row and are the favourites for the title.

"We have to compete with them in every area (such as) duels in the air where they are very strong, tackle hard and not give an inch."

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