French winger Vicnent Clerc warns Ireland that he lies in wait
PROLIFIC France winger Vincent Clerc has warned Ireland ahead of tomorrow's RBS 6 Nations showdown in Paris that he revels in the space they offer.
Clerc has tormented the Irish throughout his nine appearances in the fixture, helping himself to eight tries including the late match-winning touch down that effectively denied them the 2007 Grand Slam.
The 30-year-old Toulouse back, the joint leading try-scorer at last year's World Cup, believes his success is grounded in Ireland's style of play
"It's hard to explain why I've done so well against them because a try always depends on the whole team's performance," he said.
"Maybe the play is open against the Irish and there's a lot of space. As a result, the wingers have more chance of scoring.
"I like playing against the Irish. You get to touch the ball a lot and it's fast-paced."
Ireland have failed to beat France in four meetings since their Grand Slam-winning year of 2009, which was also the only time they have won in the past 12 encounters.
However, Clerc remains full of admiration for Declan Kidney's side and feels last Sunday's 23-21 loss to Wales fails to paint an accurate picture of their ability.
"They played really well against the Welsh and they did not deserve to lose at the end," he said.
"It is going to be a complicated tussle. They haven't beaten us for a while but I think they are really in form at the moment.
"The 'fighting spirit' is one of their qualities but they have lots of others qualities, notably the line-out and keeping the ball."
Meanwhile, it was confirmed today that the Stade de France has passed a pitch inspection.
Both teams' traditional eve-of-match captain's run was cancelled today in an attempt to protect the turf from the sub-zero temperatures that have gripped Paris.
The stadium lacks under-soil heating, so the covers will only be removed two hours before the scheduled 9pm local time kick-off. The temperature beneath the covers is being maintained at two degrees and there will be another inspection tomorrow.
Minus seven has been forecast for kick-off, but it is feared it could drop as low as minus 10.
Clerc declared earlier this week there is "reason for concern" over the pitch, claiming sections near the touchline were frozen during last Saturday's win over Italy.