FRENCH RUGBY coach Fabien Galthie's mind games have begun. The Les Bleus boss has described Andy Farrell's Ireland as the best rugby team in Europe ahead of the game in Paris this weekend.
Both sides could gain real momentum in their Six Nations push if they overcome one another. Both sides recently beat the All Blacks back in November and are the inform teams in the Northern hemisphere.
Ireland will be without star fly-half Johnny Sexton, after the Leinster man picked up a hamstring injury in training during the week.
However the former scrum-half expects Ireland to retain their exciting attack structure and style without Sexton when the sides meet this weekend.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 10, 2022
Galthie said that French prep had been done with Sexton expected to start, but think's Irish plan will go ahead as normal.
“We worked on Ireland and prepared for the game with him at fly-half,” Galthie said of Sexton.
“What we saw against Wales (last weekend) and New Zealand (in the autumn) he was their playmaker, their lead, their captain.
“We think this team is very structured, they have a very serene gameplan, they will keep that style of attack.
“We imagine they will keep the same fundamentals, attack and defence-wise despite the absence of Johnny Sexton.”
Andy Farrell's side are aiming for a 10th straight win after beating Wales last week and the French coach knows the game will be a major battle for his side
“It will be a solid match for us, Ireland arrive with a good run of victories, with the status of European number one and third in the world, therefore they are the best European adversary at the moment,” he said.
“They come to Paris with the same ambition as us: to win.
“Clearly Saturday we are touching the summit of European rugby, the sublime side of European rugby.
“Our opponent is hugely admired by followers of rugby therefore all that obliges us to have the will power and the belief to raise our levels in all respects”.
“Clearly on Saturday we are touching the summit of European rugby, the sublime side of European rugby. Our opponent is hugely admired by followers of rugby therefore all that obliges us to have the will power and the belief to raise our levels in all respects.”
— Stephen Phillips (@StevePhillipsXV) February 11, 2022
Finally the French coach and his lock Cameron Woki know that overcoming Ireland's excellent discipline record will be key if they are to win.
Ireland didn't give away a penalty until the 60th minute against Wales, when the game was over.
“Ireland are the most disciplined team in Europe. That’s what we need to correct urgently,” Woki said, recognising that France’s penalty count against Italy would not be good enough against their opponents this weekend, Woki said
Galthié added: “The Irish conceded a few penalties. They know how to play within the rules — we are more random. We need to control our environment more. We’re working on that.