Former international flyhalf Ronan O’Gara says Ireland have to be “braver than usual” in their Six Nations clash with France in Paris on Saturday.
The match is potentially a Six Nations title decider with the sides, who are both in the hunt for the title, given the advantage of playing last on Saturday.
O’Gara has knowledge of both sides as he is the head coach of French Top 14 club La Rochelle.
France and Ireland to play expansive games
The 43-year-old says the hosts and the Irish can throw caution to the wind as their game behind closed doors at Stade de France is “a shoot-out for gold”.
France will be able to do their maths before kick-off to find out exactly what they have to do but England can set both sides a stiff task if they can hammer Italy, a position that has made them the bookmakers favourites.
An open game would certainly suit the interests of both sides with Ireland able to seal the title in head coach Andy Farrell’s first Six Nations in charge with a bonus-point win over France — they have a one-point advantage over both their opponents and England.
The French will likely require a bonus-point win themselves to have a chance of lifting the trophy as England are likely to secure maximum points against Italy, who are yet to register a log point, and the title may then come down to points difference between them and the French. England are in effect setting a target for Ireland and France to chase in what should be a thrilling conclusion to the Six Nations.
O’Gara opined that the days an Irish side trembling at the thought of playing in Paris are long over.
A stunning 41-phase Ireland move resulted in Johnny Sexton dropping a sublime goal for a last-second 15-13 win at the Stade de France two years ago notching a rare win in Paris for the men in green.
Watch: Ireland clinch Six Nations glory
O’Gara believes that Ireland will be forced to be more expansive this time around as are likely to need to score four tries for that crucial bonus point.
“Ireland have to score tries and if you know you have to score tries you have to have a Plan B, C and D up your sleeve to try to break France down and get your scores,” he said.
“It’s kind of ‘all in’ on this occasion.
“They’re in a shoot-out for gold. It’s not about getting a bronze this weekend.
“There’s everything to play for.
“If you score three tries after 75 minutes and you force a pass and they intercept and score the other way and you lose the game, I think you can live with that.
“There’s a huge reward in being braver than usual as long as there’s a bit of smarts with it.”
O’Gara says the Six Nations title race it is too close to call.
“This is a French team who are confident and they are playing with a lot of belief, and a lot of tempo and X-factor.
“I genuinely make it a 50-50 game because I think there’s vulnerabilities in both teams.
“France, most definitely, have more X-factor but I think Ireland are far more disciplined.”
Method to French madness
O’Gara, though, says new France coach Galthie has resolved a problem that has dogged the French through the years by drilling them to unleash a higher tempo game at the right moment.
“What really impressed me about France last week against Wales is how good they looked when they turned it on,” he said.
“I haven’t seen them look like that before.
“And they looked trained to do it.
“There’s a lot of method to their so-called madness nowadays.”