Josh van der Flier insists Ireland need to be at their very best to beat France on Sunday and keep their Guinness Six Nations hopes alive.
Andy Farrell’s side lost 21-16 to Wales in Round 1, despite a valiant effort with 14 men for much of the game after Peter O’Mahony’s early red card.
But now they face a France team that convincingly beat them on Super Saturday last year and opened their own 2021 account with a 50-10 victory in Italy.
Les Bleus are one of the favourites for the Championship and Van der Flier knows Ireland have their work cut out.
“France looked very dangerous, as always. They’re in great form. In terms of their individuals, they’re obviously up there with the best teams in the world,” he said.
“It’ll be very, very tough. Haven’t obviously had too much of a look at them yet, but we need to win of course and we’ll be looking to put in a big performance against an incredible team. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll take the learnings from this.
“I think there was a lot of positives, especially how hard we worked and the heart we showed. If we add a bit of accuracy into that and hopefully we’ll be in a good place for competing with them.”
Ireland have not lost at home to France in ten years and will be confident of extending that record if they can replicate the heart and desire they showed in Cardiff.
Despite O’Mahony’s 14th-minute red card, Ireland led 13-6 at half-time before Wales managed to hit back through tries from George North and Louis Rees-Zammit.
And flanker Van der Flier says they take great pride in how they performed.
“We were obviously aiming to come over here and win the game. There’s immense pride there as well. It’s something Andy spoke about after the game,” he added.
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“Obviously being down a man is challenging and we really fought hard. Made a few mistakes obviously and there’s things we’d obviously want to do better.
“I think tremendous pride to have represented the jersey in the circumstances as well, as a team. Pride in that, but obviously overwhelming disappointment.
“Not the ideal way obviously to start off the tournament, but we’ll have to fix a few things and aim for a win at home against France.”