Andy Farrell hopeful Dublin crowd can inspire Ireland to victory over France

A sold-out Aviva Stadium awaits Les Bleus.

Ed Elliot
Friday 10 February 2023 09:00 GMT
Andy Farrell is yet to beat France as Ireland head coach (Joe Giddens/PA)
Andy Farrell is yet to beat France as Ireland head coach (Joe Giddens/PA)

Andy Farrell hopes a partisan Dublin crowd can turn the tables on France and drag Ireland through difficult moments during Saturday’s potential Guinness Six Nations title decider.

Farrell’s men felt the full force of a raucous Stade de France this time last year as French fans spurred on their side to a thrilling 30-24 win which paved the way for Grand Slam glory.

A sold-out Aviva Stadium awaits Les Bleus this weekend when the world’s top two teams collide in a mouthwatering encounter.

Head coach Farrell has urged home supporters to help Ireland end a three-match losing streak against Fabien Galthie’s in-form visitors but acknowledges his players are responsible for igniting the atmosphere on the terraces.

“Yeah, 100 per cent,” he said, speaking of the need to bring the crowd into the game. “It’s a package, isn’t it?

“It’s everyone who comes to the game buying into it and we’re a part of that package.

“Obviously everyone wants to start well and start strongly, and it’s something that we’ve done pretty well.

“But things ain’t going to go all according to plan when two good teams are going at it.

“So therefore it isn’t just getting them behind us and getting excited through the good times, it’s also making sure that the fans feel where we’re at in the game as well and try and drag us through because it’s certainly what our players felt last year in France.”

France are the only visiting side to triumph in Dublin during Farrell’s tenure – a 15-13 victory in 2021 when spectators were absent due to coronavirus restrictions.

Ireland’s plans this time around have been disrupted by the loss of influential hooker Dan Sheehan to a hamstring issue, resulting in a start for Ulster’s Rob Herring.

Sheehan is the fourth Irish player to have injured that specific muscle in the past fortnight following similar problems for Ronan Kelleher, who will be back on the bench on Saturday, Cian Healy and Jamison Gibson-Park.

Farrell’s medical team are investigating a possible link between the causes of the injuries.

“When you’ve four of something that’s pretty similar there’s a chance that there’s a theme there,” he said.

“So it’s something that we’re looking into obviously, but it’s full steam ahead as far as the job in hand from here on in for us.”

France extended their winning run to a record 14 games with a stuttering 29-24 victory over Italy on the opening weekend, while Ireland blitzed Wales 34-10.

Farrell, who is braced for the unchanged World Cup hosts to be back at their formidable best, believes his team have improved since the sides met 12 months ago.

“We’ll see – we certainly think we have,” he said.

“We nearly got there in Paris last year but nearly is not quite good enough, so therefore lessons learned.

“I think they’re well documented as far as being ourselves and taking our game to them.

“Transferring that to the field is obviously the aim but the French are going to have a big say in that as well. I expect France to be at their best.”

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