Ireland v France, Six Nations Championship, February 7
Faure prepared for intense forward battle
PA Sport
February 5, 2009
France flanker Thierry Dusautoir is tackled by prop Lionel Faure, France training session, Marcoussis, south of Paris, France, January 28, 2009
Faure gets to grips with team mate Thierry Dusautoir during training ahead of their Six Nations opener against Ireland © Getty Images

France prop Lionel Faure says his his side have a score to settle against Ireland in Saturday's Six Nations clash in Dublin.

In last year's Six Nations, the French defeated Ireland 26-21 at the Stade de France but their pack suffered the ignominy of conceding a penalty try in the second half after collapsing under pressure near their own line. At the time, France head coach Marc Lievremont was chopping and changing his forwards at will, picking some inexperienced players who were clearly out of depth on the international scene.

Lievremont has since settled on his best team, with the likes of Faure and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski regular picks, and the scrum has improved as a result. They were even awarded a penalty try of their own when Australia buckled under pressure during a November Test match in Paris.

However, Faure has not forgotten about the blow to the pride struck by the Irish last February. "When we played against Ireland in the last Six Nations, it was quite a bad point for us because we conceded that penalty try," the Sale Sharks prop told PA Sport. "We were in trouble there at the last Six Nations. It has been forgotten a little bit because we scored one of our own against Australia but it is still fresh in the memory.

"Our scrum is getting better, though, I think. We are working very, very hard on it and I am sure we will keep going in the right direction. It is not 100% perfect and there are always small points to improve on, but it's getting better.

"It will be the first time we have played against Ireland since that match and we will watching their scrum from last year on the tape. We have to be focused and ready to fight, to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Faure has been a regular for France since Lievremont came in as coach. And such is the 31-year-old's progress over the past couple of years that he is normally picked ahead of England man-mountain Andrew Sheridan for Sale in their big matches in the Guinness Premiership and the Heineken Cup.

Faure, who is set to leave the Sharks in the summer and play his club rugby in France next year, is happy with the form he has shown for Les Bleus. "I have been involved all the time for France, in the last Six Nations, in the summer tour to Australia and in the autumn internationals," he said. "I keep working hard, and try to get round the pitch and do my best. As long as I am satisfied when I leave the pitch every time I play, and the coach says it is okay, then I'm pleased. It's going well I think."

Faure admits coming up against Ireland's pack on their own turf is one of the hardest challenges in rugby. He has played twice for Sale this season against Irish giants Munster, who provide the majority of players in Ireland's pack, and that has given Faure an idea of the test that awaits him and the France scrum on Saturday.

"I know all their front five and they are very aggressive, good in the scrum and Paul O'Connell especially is great in the line-out," added Faure, who will this weekend earn his seventh cap. "It will be very special to play in front of 85-90,000 people. The Irish crowd are very vocal, like it was in Munster.

"My one-on-one against John Hayes is always difficult. He is big and technical, and what is amazing is he never gets injured. He plays every game. He is 35, 36, and he plays 80 minutes every week and never gets hurt. He's unbelievable!"


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