Lenihan says focus is the key
March 17, 2000

Ireland team manager Donal Lenihan has told his side to focus on themselves if they want to succeed at the Stade de France.

"Our record against France isn't great, so from that point of view our aim will be to concentrate on ourselves and get our own approach right," says Lenihan.

"But we have a lot of information on the French players and naturally we have discussed them in detail with our own lads.

"Because of the experiences of the Irish provinces in European competition our players will have come across their opponents at some stage or another, so our guys are not in any danger of being over-awed by reputations."

Lenihan reckons injury-depleted France have sufficient strength in depth to make Ireland toil for a first win in Paris since 1972.

French coach Bernard Laporte's plans have been badly disrupted by injuries, with Thomas Castaignede the latest to pull out of Sunday's Six Nations Championship clash at the Stade de France.

Castaignede, who has a strained leg muscle, joins Christophe Dominici, Thomas Lombard, Sebastien Chabel, Christophe Lamaison, Fabien Galthie and Richard Dourthe on the sidelines.

"Obviously we've done a lot of work in analysing the French side, said Irish team manager Lenihan.

"With injuries and one thing and another they've had to make quite a few changes during their championship campaign to date.

"But it's probably safe to say that France, with maybe the exception of England, have more strength in depth than anybody else."

Castaignede's withdrawal opens the door for Montferrand winger David Bory to make his international debut while Emile Ntamack moves to full-back and Philippe Bernat-Salles returns to the wing for his first match since the World Cup Final loss against Australia last November.

Hugues Miorin wins a recall and Abdelatif Benazzi, Alain Penaud and Stephane Glas return from injury.

"Many of the players they've brought in have lined up against us in the past so we're aware of them," said Lenihan.

"So while they have lost several players through injury, the guys who have taken their places are experienced internationals and excellent performers.

"So regardless of what team they eventually put out, they'll be tough opponents.

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