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What Fabien Galthie is expecting from a Johnny-Sexton-less Ireland

By PA
Fabien Galthie (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

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France head coach Fabien Galthie does not expect Ireland to modify their offensive style of play in the absence of injured captain Johnny Sexton.

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Les Bleus were preparing for fly-half Sexton to lead the Irish in Paris this weekend before he was ruled out by a hamstring issue on Thursday morning and replaced by Joey Carbery.

Saturday evening’s mouth-watering Stade de France clash is already being touted as a potential Guinness Six Nations title decider, with both sides in form and producing free-flowing rugby.

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“We worked on Ireland and prepared for the game with him at fly-half,” Galthie said of Sexton.

“What we saw against Wales (last weekend) and New Zealand (in the autumn) he was their playmaker, their lead, their captain.

“We think this team are very structured, they have a very serene gameplan, they will keep that style of attack.

“We imagine they will keep the same fundamentals, attack and defence-wise despite the absence of Johnny Sexton.”

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Les Bleus have made two changes to the starting XV which recovered from a slow start to defeat Italy 37-10 last weekend.

Centre Yoram Moefana will make his maiden championship start in place of the injured Jonathan Danty, while Francois Cros replaces Dylan Cretin in the back row.

Ireland are seeking a 10th consecutive win and Galthie is braced for a major test.

“It will be a solid match for us, Ireland arrive with a good run of victories, with the status of European number one and third in the world, therefore they are the best European adversary at the moment,” he said.

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“They come to Paris with the same ambition as us: to win.

“Clearly Saturday we are touching the summit of European rugby, the sublime side of European rugby.

“Our opponent is hugely admired by followers of rugby therefore all that obliges us to have the will power and the belief to raise our levels in all respects”.

France team: M Jaminet (Perpignan), D Penaud (Clermont), G Fickou (Racing 92), Y Moefana (Bordeaux), G Villiere (Toulon); R Ntamack (Toulouse), A Dupont (Toulouse); C Baille (Toulouse), J Marchand (Toulouse), U Atonio (La Rochelle), C Woki (Bordeaux), P Willemse (Montpellier), F Cros (Toulouse), A Jelonch (Toulouse), G Alldritt (La Rochelle).

Replacements: P Mauvaka (Toulouse), J-B Gros (Toulon), D Bamba (Lyon), R Taofifenua (Lyon), T Flament (Toulouse), D Cretin (Lyon), M Lucu (Bordeaux), T Ramos (Toulouse).

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