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'Our best performance needs to come next week' - Focus turns to France

Eoin Reddan says any ideas that Ireland travel to Paris as favourites are wide of the mark.

Reddan keeps a close eye on Italy's Josh Furno.
Reddan keeps a close eye on Italy's Josh Furno.
Image: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

JOE SCHMIDT HAS placed a heavy onus on his replacements making a real impact on the Six Nations this season and in that regard, Eoin Reddan delivered against Italy yesterday.

With Ireland enjoying three quarters of the total possession during their 46-7 victory, the attacking platform was well suited to the inventive input of the 33-year-old. Reddan sparked some of Ireland’s best attacking play and “nearly got there” for a try of his own after bursting away down the blindside from a scrum.

While this was the Limerick native’s first outing in the competition this year, he outlines that he had made his own contributions before the Italy win, like so many of the other fringe players.

Whether you believe me or not, it is a massive squad effort. Everyone’s really bought into it from the start, not just the guys you see running out every week. It’ll be the same next weekend.”

Reddan says the back-up players will provide as stiff a test of Ireland’s defence as they can in the coming training week, doing their best to prepare the starting XV for how the French are likely to attack.

The scrum-half is confident Ireland will “show up” and continue their consistency of recent times, but stresses that any perception of Schmidt’s men as the favourites in the Stade de France on Saturday will be wide of the mark.

“Temptation is there for people externally of the group to go over the top on a polished performance and install us promptly as favourites on Monday morning. I don’t think that would be right at all.

“We’ve won there once in 40 years or so, and that makes it a tough weekend.”

Brian O'Driscoll after being substituted Reddan says the players can show their respect for O'Driscoll with a performance next weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The celebration of Brian O’Driscoll’s final home game for Ireland may have dominated yesterday, but Reddan believes next weekend is even more important in honouring the legendary outside centre.

“The players have to deliver their respect next week in terms of delivering for him. It was something special today and it was right to celebrate it. These moments can pass you by if you don’t.

“When the chance is there, you should definitely take it. The players have to deliver and give him a pat on the back in a different way. That’s being the man beside him next week and delivering massively so that he does have a proper and well-deserved send-off.”

Reddan points out that elements of Ireland’s performance against Italy were not up to scratch, particularly the fact that they “were a bit loose carrying the ball,” allowing Italy to strip possession clear in contact on occasions.

He highlights the danger of a similar lack of security against the daring counter-attack of the French, before underlining the fact that Ireland must deliver their best performance of the championship next weekend.

I think the key about winning tournaments is that you need to be playing better at the end that you did at the start. Our best performance needs to come next week and that needs to come in a variety of different areas: first phase, phase play, ball carries, cleaning out rucks.

“They need to be the best they’ve been. If you look at World Cups or Heineken Cups, the team that wins it have improved from the start of it, because otherwise teams catch you. They see you every week, they learn how to live with you. So we’ll have to be better and different than we were today next week.”

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Murray Kinsella

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