Irish a 'different team' to one that lost in Paris

1 month ago 27
Lowe scores his try against WalesLowe scored a breakaway try in Ireland's 34-10 bonus-point win over Wales in Cardiff
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 11 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary & highlights on BBC Sport website & app

Wing James Lowe believes Ireland are a different team to the one that lost to France last year as they prepare to meet in the Six Nations on Saturday.

France beat Ireland in Paris on their way to winning the Grand Slam in 2022.

But Lowe, who scored a try in the Irish win over Wales in Cardiff, says Ireland will leave "no stone unturned" ahead of hosting Les Bleus at the Aviva Stadium.

"Last year, we probably gave them a few too many easy points in the first half," said Lowe, 30.

"We fought back in the second half but we weren't quite there. I think we're a different team now compared to where we were 12 months ago.

"We're going to go out and give it a good crack. If they beat us and the better team wins, that's what happens, it's rugby, it's sport. We're going to leave no stone unturned to make sure we show up on the big stage."

France are the only major nation Ireland have not beaten during Andy Farrell's tenure and are the only nation to win in Dublin since the last World Cup in 2019.

Ireland have lost the last three Six Nations meetings with Fabien Galthie's side, who avoided a shock opening weekend loss by beating Italy 29-24 in a Stadio Olimpico thriller.

However, Lowe is not reading too much into the champions' underwhelming display in Rome and expects to face a "different French beast" in Dublin.

"I know they would be disappointed with their performance against Italy, and credit to Italy, they fronted up physically," added the New Zealand-born Leinster player.

"That first half was very messy, I think both sides would say that, and then the second half was a proper Test match.

"But we know it's a different French beast (this week), the France that we know is going to turn up and we're prepping for that and can't wait for the opportunity to test ourselves against the team that won the Grand Slam last year.

"They're a world-class side, they've shown it for a good couple of years. Their nine-10 combo (Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack) is pretty scary, their back rowers are world-class, a midfield that's very dangerous and a back three that would put the shivers up most teams.

"Individually they've got some pretty good firepower, so hopefully they don't string it all together. It's a whole new beast around the corner."

Saturday's Test in Dublin has been billed as a title decider between the world's top two teams, but Lowe - who has 16 Ireland caps since making his debut in 2020 - insists it is too early in the championship to frame this weekend's encounter as such.

"It's the second game of a Six Nations, I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves," said Lowe, who linked up with the Ireland squad for the pre-tournament camp in Portugal after returning to New Zealand for family reasons.

"And I'm sure they'll be saying the same things. It's the old cliche, one game at a time, and we'll take it like that.

"I didn't know that he (Farrell) hadn't beaten France; I haven't beaten France yet so I wouldn't mind having a go at them as well."

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