Raphael Ibanez says France will take their performance “up a notch” when they host Ireland in a battle of the Six Nations favourites on Saturday.
Les Bleus moved top of the table on points difference following the 37-10 victory over Italy on Sunday, but had trailed after half an hour.
Ireland impressively beat Wales 29-7 in Dublin to stay one position above fifth-placed France in the world rankings.
“Is the Irish performance really a surprise when they’re fourth in the table? They honoured their ranking with a quite accomplished performance,” Ibanez, France team manager, told reporters.
“The challenge for us all, which is super exciting, is to make sure that the six days between now and Ireland are the most complete as possible.
“We know we have to take it up a notch. But with the competitive instinct that is in our squad we will all take it up a notch,” he added.
Ibanez (48) stood in for head coach Fabien Galthie with the former Test captain absent having tested positive for coronavirus last week.
Galthie, who guided his side to successes over Argentina, Georgia and New Zealand last autumn, followed Ireland’s win on Saturday, making the most of his spare time in isolation before returning to his duties next week.
“In the preparations for the match, we’re almost equal because Fabien had time yesterday to do strategic work on the Irish,” Ibanez said.
“In our programme we have just one big training day on Wednesday.
“But what will count is our state of mind, the collective and communal drive and the players who built their victories in November with a lot of panache,” he added.
France conceded a weekend-leading 14 penalties against the Azzurri and made the same number of handling mistakes as they struggled to gain control of the tie early on in greasy conditions.
“What we have to put right are the repeated errors,” fullback Melvyn Jaminet said. “Against Ireland we have to succeed in keeping the ball like we did against the All Blacks.
“We also have to keep the intensity for 80 minutes, we know it’s going to be vital,” he added.
In Round 2, Les Bleus will possibly have to contend with a fierce Ireland back row of Caelan Doris, Jack Conan and Josh van der Flier.
Van der Flier made 11 carries and 16 tackles against Wales.
“We know that Ireland have a big back row. We, in that sector, we try and perform too,” France flank Anthony Jelonch said. “We’re expecting a big fight from the Irish back row.
“Physically, it will be very difficult but it will be for us to take them on and win our match within the match,” he added.
© Agence France-Presse
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