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Sexton: We're looking to write our own bit of history in Paris

Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton says the team want to write themselves into the history books in ...

Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton says the team want to write themselves into the history books in Paris on Saturday evening. 

The Leinster out-half led the captain's run at the Stade de France on Friday ahead of the Six Nations showdown with France.

Ireland know a bonus point win over their hosts will secure the Championship.

Ireland's recent record against Les Bleus is pretty impressive. They've won five of the last six Six Nations encounters, with Sexton's 83rd minute drop goal setting them on the road to the 2018 title on their last visit to the City of Lights.

"It feels like longer than two years now," Sexton said pitchside on Friday, "I think this group is a different group, different coaches, against a very different French group.

"It's totally different circumstances, and we're looking to write our own little bit of history tomorrow."

One of those who was in Paris back in 2018 is forwards coach Simon Easterby.

Given the schedule on Saturday, with England playing Italy beforehand, Ireland will know exactly what they have to do against the French to win the Championship.

Easterby is hoping for a bright start from the side, but has stressed the importance of staying focused, "If you go chasing things, then often that can be a distraction.

"We must start the game well, we must take opportunities when they arise. Sometimes we might go [to] the corner if we get opportunities, other times we may kick at the goals and try and build a score.

"I don't think coming to Paris and getting a win is something Irish teams haven't had huge success [with] over the last twenty years.

It's crucial that we get that good start, and we're building up to that

"But we saw in 2018 that we stayed in a game, and we were able to effectively win a game late on. That may be what will be the case tomorrow, it may well [be] that the game opens up a little bit.

"We have to focus on winning the game first, and after that we reassess at half-time, and as the game's going.

"The players have full licence to make good decisions on the pitch, at the right times, and Johnny and the other leaders will do that as they see fit."

Starting games with a greater impact is something Easterby says the coaching staff spent lockdown trying to master.

"The French, once they get momentum, they become a very difficult team to deal with," Easterby said.

"So it's certainly an area that we have focus for - not just for the French, but with other teams maybe in recent history we haven't started games as well as we should have done.

"So we have to make sure that we're prepared right, and that means making good decisions in the early stages of the game so that we're not chasing things early on - we get on the front foot.

"There will be times that we play a certain way, and there'll be other times when we have to adapt and be able to play a slightly different way.

"In any game - and the facts are there for all to see - in terms of how many games off the back of that first 20-minutes, and on the flip-side of that, how many teams lose having not done well in the first 20-minutes.

"It's crucial that we get that good start, and we're building up to that. And hopefully that's something that we've put into place over the last couple of weeks that we've come back together."

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England France Ireland Jonathan Sexton Simon Easterby Six Nations