Ireland do not fear France's squad changes, says Rory Best
By Katie Falkingham
Last Updated: 12/02/16 5:28pm
Ireland captain Rory Best insists his team will not be caught out by France's changes in the scrum for their Six Nations clash on Saturday.
The reigning Six Nations champions play their first away game of this year's tournament at the Stade de France against a French side who narrowly defeated Italy 23-21 in their opening match.
Best is confident his side will not be caught cold for the second week in a row after struggling in attack during their 16-16 draw against Wales, despite France coach Guy Noves altering his team in preparation for the game.
"France have got a very, very good squad," Best said. "No matter who they pick you know it's going to be a tough challenge.
"There are three changes in the front five; it certainly freshens things up and paints a bit of a different picture for us, but it by no means weakens them."
Noves has made six changes to his squad ahead of Ireland's visit to Paris, bringing winger Teddy Thomas and centre Maxime Mermoz in to replace Hugo Bonneval and Gael Fickou.
Jefferson Poirot and Uini Atonio also come in, with Alexandre Flanquart and Yacouba Camara also making the starting 15 ahead of lock Paul Jedresiak and the injured Louis Picamoles.
But despite France's extensive changes, 33-year-old Best is confident his side are sufficiently prepared to earn their first win of this year's competition.
"From the scrum point of view the four props haven't changed from the last matchday squad," he said.
"It's something that we pride ourselves on, is that we put as much attention and detail onto the subs as we do onto the others because sometimes, and a lot of the time, it's the end of the game that is the winning of it."
While Ireland haven't lost to France in their last five meetings, Best maintains that their run should not influence Saturday's outcome.
"We've had a fantastic record here under Joe Schmidt," Best added, speaking of Ireland's head coach. "It's an incredibly tough place to play.
"I've played here quite a few times,certainly in the early part of my career, with no joy whatsoever. They're a quality side, and it's a very, very tough place to come and play.
"Whenever they sing the French national anthem, if you're a rugby neutral or a fan and in the ground, it's a great place to be because it's sung with so much passion.
"Obviously from the players' point of view you have to block all that out but you know it will be a great atmosphere tomorrow.
"But ultimately it comes down to rugby and they're a quality side and we know that we're going to have to be better than we were last week to get a result."