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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018
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France captain Dusautoir: 'I don’t view Johnny Sexton as a target'

The Toulouse back row has moved to reduce any perceived tension ahead of the Six Nations clash.

Sexton scored two tries against France last year.
Sexton scored two tries against France last year.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

FRANCE CAPTAIN THIERRY Dusautoir has downplayed the notion that his side will target the returning Johnny Sexton during their Six Nations clash with Ireland in Dublin.

The Racing Métro’s out-half’s comeback after a concussion-enforced 12 weeks on the sidelines has increasingly dominated the build-up to this evening’s fixture, with the IRFU yesterday evening taking the step of issuing a statement underlining the fact that Sexton is ready to play.

France coach Philippe Saint-André earlier this week said France would have to “test” Sexton early on, while flanker Bernard le Roux – a teammate of Sexton’s at Racing – joked that the out-half should wear a helmet.

Dusautoir, however, believes France cannot be focused on one individual in the Ireland XV.

“I don’t view him as a target,” said Dusautoir at the Aviva Stadium on Friday evening. “This Ireland team has far too many threats and good players to focus solely on one.

“He wouldn’t be playing if he hadn’t met all the concussion demands. He’s not the only player with experience and power returning either; they have Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien back, so I wouldn’t want to concentrate on one man like that.

“It’s a team that has huge experience returning after Italy. There’s a lot of strength in there and Sexton adds a lot of strength at half-back.”

Thierry Dusautoir Dusautoir led the French team on the captain's run on Friday evening. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Forwards coach Yannick Bru backed up the Toulouse flanker’s words at France’s captain’s run press conference in Dublin yesterday.

“Obviously first of all it’s very bad news for us that Johnny Sexton is playing in this game, because it’s a different Ireland team with him than without him, as we saw last week,” said Bru.

“To target him would be to forget that Joe Schmidt is very clever, so we will play the game as though Johnny was not there. We respect him a great deal, he is a huge character, and we will not target him. We will just concentrate on our game, on our efficiency.

“We’ve worked a lot on what we can control, so with Johnny, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip coming back, it’s good news for Ireland but bad news for us.”

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Murray Kinsella

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