Brian O’Driscoll fears Ireland could feel the backlash of France’s shock RBS 6 Nations defeat to Scotland when the two teams meet on Saturday.
Bernard Laporte’s men were sent reeling by last weekend’s shock 20-16 defeat at the hands of the unfancied Scots and must triumph in Paris on Saturday to keep their championship title hopes alive.
The last Irish victory at the Stade de France was in 2000 – the first year of the Six Nations – when O’Driscoll’s stunning hat-trick inflicted a 27-25 loss on Les Bleus.
But the Ireland and British & Irish Lions skipper knows to repeat those heroics would be another seismic upset and pointed to the November victories over Australia and South Africa as evidence of French power on home soil.
"France made a huge amount of unforced errors against Scotland and they never really played themselves into the game," he said.
"I know French sides in the past have been accused of travelling badly but they play well at home – with the exception of one or two blips like the second half of the Welsh game last year.
"They are always a different side when you play them in Paris and we should take on board more what they did last November than what they did last weekend.
"There’s pressure on the French team and there’s pressure on Bernard Laporte. When your back is against the wall you have a tendency to improve your performance.
"I’ve been in that position myself. You tend to dig a bit deeper when asked."
O’Driscoll will lead Ireland for the 24th time, winning his 61st cap in the process and while there has been much talk of the expected French backlash, Ireland also have their own point to prove following a poor display against Italy.
O’Driscoll has been surprised by the negativity surrounding the victory but realises it may be an symptom of the increased expectation surrounding Ireland.
"We won the game – I’d hate to see the reaction if we’d lost," said the 27-year-old Leinster centre.
"The public opinion of the display was low but maybe we should take that as a compliment as it’s no longer good enough just to beat teams like Italy."