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Johnny Sexton backs Ireland to follow up in Paris

By PA
Garry Ringrose /PA

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Ireland captain Johnny Sexton insists confidence in the camp has never wavered during Andy Farrell’s reign as head coach.

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The in-form Irish are riding high on the back of nine successive wins following Saturday’s emphatic 29-7 Guinness Six Nations success over reigning champions Wales in Dublin.

Ireland had to settle for successive third-place finishes in Farrell’s first two championship campaigns at the helm, with title hopes wiped out inside two rounds last year after a frustrating loss to the Welsh in Cardiff and a narrow home defeat to France.

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But the Irish, who face a daunting trip to Paris next weekend, have not been beaten since.

Fly-half Sexton says players retained belief throughout the transitional period.

“There’s always been confidence in the group, even when times were low,” said the 36-year-old.

“After the first two games of the Six Nations last year, we felt we weren’t too far away and thankfully we’ve turned things around in terms of results-wise.

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“You’re never confident about going over to Paris because it’s a hard place to go but I’m confident in the group.

“I’m confident that we feel if we play our very best we can win and that’s what we need to get out of ourselves this week.

“Get our prep right, make sure we get our recovery right, put our best performance out there and see where that gets us.”

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Ireland eased to victory over the depleted Welsh at a sold-out Aviva Stadium following Bundee Aki’s early try, a second-half brace from Andrew Conway and Garry Ringrose’s solo score.

Farrell dismissed suggestions that a tougher opening test would have been more beneficial for preparing to face Les Bleus.

“It was a tough task – you can ask the guys, they are pretty sore,” he said. “I actually thought Wales made it very hard, they tried to put us under pressure.

“Fair play to the players for having the courage of their own convictions to play the game that we wanted to play.

“As far as the hit out (for France) is concerned, it was perfect for us as some of our lads have not played a big game in a long while, to get people back up and running is great.

“We must make sure we recover properly and on to the next one.”

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