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'Sexton? Leave him to Thierry': France determined not to look backwards before Pool D decider

The form of the last four years is no concern for captain Thierry Dusautoir.

Sean Farrell reports from the Millennium Stadium

FRANCE CAPTAIN THIERRY Dusautoir is ready to rip up the recent history against Ireland and ‘change the story’ to help his side top Pool D.

Les Bleus take on the Six Nations champions tomorrow knowing a fifth game without a win would put them on a collision course with the world champions with a six-day turnaround.

“It’s true that we haven’t beaten Ireland in four years, but we had two draws, that I remember well and the two defeats were very close,” said Dusautoir before leading his team’s Captain’s Run under the roof in Cardiff today.

Thierry Dusautoir before the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I hope that tomorrow we will have the arguments to win the game.

“I wouldn’t gamble on the French team if I was a supporter, but I am a player and I can help change the story tomorrow on the pitch.”

While those of us who report on Ireland’s rugby exploits continually point to great historical days in Cardiff as a way to build confidence, Dusautoir is returning to the scene of his finest hour. In the 2007 World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand, the flanker put in one of the greatest individual displays in World Cup history, racking up 38 tackles to help his side to an improbable win. He has been back in Cardiff several times since that day, of course, so that too is consigned to the history books.

“Eight years has passed since that great match here. So a lot has changed.

“It’s not a quarter-final, it’s not the same, but it’s massively important for us. We’ve got to front up to Ireland in order to succeed.

“We’ve got to play our best rugby to win, but we can’t be thinking about repeating the past, it’s a different scenario.”

pape

Lock Pascale Pape was also refusing to dig up any hatchets. The second row banned for 10 games after kneeing Jamie Heaslip in the back during the Six Nations. The lock apologised days later, the number 8 accepted. Hands are dusted off, move along, nothing to see here.

As for the pot-shots sent over the bows of the good ship France towards Ireland playmaker Jonathan Sexton this week, it was left to his opposite number Freddy Michalak to defuse the tension with a droll stinger to an otherwise diplomatic response.

“He’s a great player, he’s had two years in France so I’ve played against him a number of times.

“I’ll concentrate on the French team though, I can’t worry about him particularly – I’ll leave that to Thierry.”

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Sean Farrell

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