Basics beat magic

Lions full back Rob Kearney says the key to Ireland beating France is playing to their potential rather than a moment of magic. [more]

Basics beat magic

Lions full back Rob Kearney says the key to Ireland beating France is playing to their potential rather than a moment of magic.

Ireland have won just the once in Paris since 1972, with that famous victory coming courtesy of a heroic hat-trick from star centre Brian O’Driscoll 12 years ago.

Defeat to Wales in Dublin on the opening weekend of 6 Nations has left critics suggesting Ireland will need to produce a sensational display to see off the French in their own backyard but Kearney offers a far more pragmatic approach.

“We need to just do what we know we are capable of, playing the percentages when needs be and being clinical in attack,” Kearney, who starts in the No15 shirt at the Stade de France after a impressive personal showing in Round 1, told the Irish Independent.

“We’ve beaten them before. We haven't done anything different and that is an important point to make this weekend: we are not going to try and do anything different, although we do have to go after them a little bit more.

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“When you are away from home you have to go at them, but, at the same time, it's important that we don't feel as if we have to produce something special or magical.

“The biggest thing is not giving them a head-start and to then end up chasing the game. That's what we've always done. You can't give them a lead, because it's irretrievable.”

Ireland have made just one change to their starting side for the clash with the French as Keith Earls replaces Fergus McFadden in midfield.

Earls was named in the team to face Wales last Sunday but had to withdraw after his baby daughter was taken into hospital.

The 2009 Lion should add an extra dimension to Ireland’s attack but he will also hope to prove more solid than McFadden in defence after the versatile Leinsterman was brushed off far too easily by George North in the lead up to Jonathan Davies’ second try.

And Kearney admits that it is when they don’t have the ball that Ireland need to make the biggest improvements this weekend.

“Our defence let us down on the day. That's not what we expect of this team,” added Kearney.

“Our defensive record over the years has been pretty strong. At the weekend it was well below par.

“More often than not, you'll find defence is a mindset. There were a couple of technicalities where we came up short and some guys did things that you wouldn't expect of them.

“We have changed our attack a little bit since the World Cup because there was a consensus that we were becoming a little predictable in some of our play.

"Both our tries were examples of that change. That was the most pleasing aspect – trying things in training and that it pays off come game day.

“Given that we had only three or four weeks for everyone to focus on that, I think we can be pretty happy, because it wasn't our attack that let us down.”

Ireland (v France, Stade de France, Saturday, 8pm)

15 Rob Kearney (Leinster)
14 Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 Keith Earls (Munster)
12 Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster)

11 Andrew Trimble (Ulster)
10 Jonathan Sexton (Leinster)
9 Conor Murray (Munster)

1 Cian Healy (Leinster)
2 Rory Best (Ulster)
3 Mike Ross (Leinster)
4 Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster)
5 Paul O'Connell (Munster, captain)
6 Stephen Ferris (Ulster)

7 Sean O'Brien (Leinster)
8 Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)

Replacements

16 Sean Cronin (Leinster)
17 Tom Court (Ulster)
18 Donnacha Ryan (Munster)
19 Peter O'Mahony (Munster)
20 Eoin Reddan (Leinster)
21 Ronan O'Gara (Munster)
22 Fergus McFadden (Leinster)

NB Bold denotes Lion

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