Cullen urges response as Irish gear up for France

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The Independent Online

Leo Cullen has demanded Ireland raise their intensity when they return to the setting for their disastrous 2007 World Cup.

Bordeaux was their base camp four years ago with the Chaban-Delmas stadium hosting dismal pool matches against Namibia and Georgia.

Ireland's confidence did not recover after making such a terrible start to the tournament and they failed to emerge from the group stage.

Four years on they have taken steps to avoid being undercooked once again by arranging a strenuous quartet of warm-up internationals.

Today they face the first of two matches against France, and Cullen, captain for a second successive week, knows there must be improvements following the 10-6 loss to Scotland.

"We need to up our intensity for France," said the Leinster second row. "The team was a little bit quiet against Scotland and I think that's because of the fatigue.

"When you've got the fatigue in your legs and your body is tired, it feels unusual and mentally you're not as sharp. We're aware of that this week – in the heat of battle we want to be mentally sharp.

"Defensively we looked very comfortable for most of the game against Scotland. One of the big things for us has been working on the shape of our attack and that will be easier if we have more ball. We have more experienced players this week and the game is easier when you're on the front foot."

Ireland have picked a more robust team for the first game of their double header against France, opposition they have beaten just once since 2003.

The pack contains five players likely to start the World Cup opener against the USA on 11 September, while Paul O'Connell and Jamie Heaslip feature on the bench.

Les Bleus are a tough assignment when they play in the south and coach Marc Lièvremont has named a strong XV including Thierry Dusautoir and Imanol Harinordoquy.