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Guirado denies Sexton is set to be subjected to co-ordinated targeting

By Online Editors
Guirado walks off the pitch (Getty Images)

Captain Guilhem Guirado insists France will not target Johnny Sexton in Sunday’s Guinness Six Nations clash in Dublin.

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Hooker Guirado claimed Les Bleus would risk losing focus if chasing Ireland’s talisman fly-half in the Aviva Stadium encounter.

Sexton has railed against continued physical treatment from opponents amid Ireland battling to find form in this Six Nations, with the reigning champions losing to England and labouring to wins over Scotland and Italy.

Head coach Joe Schmidt has conceded Ireland use Sexton – with the playmaker’s tacit approval – as bait in special moves that draw holes in defences, and Guirado is loath to see France fall for that ruse.

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“Obviously Johnny is very important for their organisation but there are also a lot of very good players around him,” said Guirado, of Sexton. “So we have to focus to work as a team first and not just focus on one player.

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“Even though Ireland have had some troubles we know they will be ready for the match tomorrow, they are very well organised.

“But we’re not really focused on them, we’re focused fully on ourselves.”

Toulouse half-backs Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack spearheaded France’s return to form in their stunning 27-10 victory over Scotland in Paris.

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Now Les Bleus are desperate to ensure that result was not merely a flash in the pan, although they expect a sterner test in Dublin than against the Scots.

Toulon hooker Guirado hailed Dupont and Ntamack for transferring their club form to the Test arena, but also called on France’s collective to keep their young playmakers on track.

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“They are young, but they are used to playing together,” said Guirado.

“They are learning very quickly and they are leading the game, but it’s obviously all the players around them that have to help them.

“It’s good for our confidence, obviously after a long period of defeat, to have a victory.

“It’s good for the group, but one of the elements we are most proud about is what we did with the ball last weekend.

“But as well we have to consider the conditions tomorrow and to adapt our rugby.”

PA

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