Irish target Trinh-Duc and end to Paris hoodoo in rescheduled clash
Sean O'Brien will go hunting for a familiar foe in Paris on Sunday as Ireland look to end their astonishing record of failure in the French capital.
When the rearranged RBS Six Nations fixture finally goes ahead at the Stade de France, 22 days after the original game was controversially postponed due to a frozen pitch, history suggests that the visitors are in for a torrid time.
They have won just once in Paris since 1972, when a Brian O'Driscoll hat-trick inspired a memorable upset in 2000.
On the hunt: O'Brien is hoping to end Ireland's woeful record in Paris
If Declan Kidney's side are to prevail they will need their abrasive, marauding back-row trio of Stephen Ferris, Jamie Heaslip and O'Brien to dominate the opposition. And Leinster flanker O'Brien has his sights set on the opposition fly-half.
He first encountered Francois Trinh-Duc at Under 20 level, and after two club encounters this season is aware of the dangers posed by France's No 10, but also vulnerability that he will target.
'He's a big lad,' said O'Brien. 'We've seen him a couple of times this year and we know what he is capable of.
'We just have to shut him down, put him under pressure and keep him under pressure. When he's on the front foot he's a great player, he's able to find space very easily and put people through holes.
'It's a different story when there's a bit of pressure on him. We can get stuck into him.
Frozen out: English referee Pearson (below, on phone) will take charge of the match which was called off
FRANCE: C Poitrenaud; V Clerc, A Rougerie, W Fofana, J Malzieu; F Trinh-Duc, M Parra; JB Poux, D Szarzewski, N Mas; P Pape, Y Maestri; T Dusautoir (capt), I Harinordoquy, J Bonnaire.
Subs: W Servat, V Debaty, L Nallet, L Picamoles, J Dupuy, L Beauxis, M Mermoz.
IRELAND: R Kearney; T Bowe, K Earls, G D'Arcy, A Trimble; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell (capt); S Ferris, J Heaslip, S O’Brien.
Subs: S Cronin, T Court, D Ryan, P O'Mahony, E Reddan, R O’Gara, F McFadden.
TV: BBC1 2.45pm (KO 3pm).
Referee: Dave Pearson (England).
'He's probably one of the best 10s around so we'll have to keep an eye on him, but we have to be careful of rushing up on him or doing something stupid. We have to stay together and defend as one.
'He does put in a few grubbers and use the chip. They are things we've picked out that we will have to keep an eye on.'
France have won their last nine championship games at home, but their first two performances – both victories – under Philippe Saint-Andre have been characterised by caution.
They have been content to play a tight game and look to pounce on the counter-attack from turnover possession. Having lost full back Maxime Medard to long-term injury, the gifted but flaky Clement Poitrenaud has been recalled along with Julien Bonnaire into an all-star back row.
Kidney has named the same matchday 22 for the third successive game, and Ireland come into this daunting contest on the back of a 42-10 rout of Italy, but this will be a big step up, surely too big for them.