Monday 20 November 2017

The Left Wing: Luke Fitzgerald expertly analyses how to 'soften up' France defence

France's Noa Nakaitaci (left) and Virimi Vakatawa (right).
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Luke Fitzgerald has identified three weaknesses in the French defence that Ireland can exploit this weekend but is not so sure we should be chasing four tries against Les Bleus.

Every week, The Left Wing features Luke's unique blend of analysis and opinion as he takes you inside the game to give an honest and informed assessment of the performance of the Ireland team and the four provinces.

Fitzgerald identifies 'small guy' Camille Lopez as a man either Johnny Sexton or Paddy Jackson, depending on who starts, can target for aerial bombardment after Ireland secure the ball from French restarts.

"That's an area we can definitely attack and I think it's an area the guys might spot," he said.

"It's a big area where you can gain momentum in a game."

He also analyses the questionable positioning of the French back three and how Ireland can capitalise on it through chip and chases and tactical kicking.

"Some of the guys are taking up some pretty odd positions," he added.

He also pinpoints Virimi Vakatawa as a defensive weakness due to his habit of trying to force interceptions.

Both Ireland and France are still in the hunt for the championship but the loser of this weekend's clash will be out of the race.

The debate over whether Ireland need to target a bonus point win has been raging since the victory in Rome and Fitzgerald is urging caution.

If England, as expected, gain bonus point wins against Scotland and Italy, Ireland would need to score four tries and deny Eddie Jones' charges a losing bonus point on March 18, provided they beat France and Wales.

A five-point win this weekend would put Ireland in a much better position but the former Leinster and Ireland star would be happy with a narrow victory.

"I personally would be going for the win first.

"If we have to get four tries against England on the last day, back yourself! We're at home.

"If we went 10-12 points up and we were playing really good rugby... we scored tries against New Zealand. We are capable of doing it against the best teams.

"I'd be content with a 3-0. A win is a win. I'd rather be in the competition until the last day at home against England."

Six Nations coverage on The Left Wing, in association with Aer Lingus, the Official Airline to the Irish Rugby Team

To be in with a chance to win two tickets to Ireland v France in the Aviva this Saturday, thanks to Aer Lingus, click here

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