Best ready for Paris pain
Rory Best has warned Ireland they must be prepared to break through the pain barrier if they are to rescue their RBS 6 Nations by overcoming France.
A solitary victory since 1972 is all the Irish have to show from four decades of campaigning in Paris. Urgency to end that abysmal record has been added by last weekend's agonising 23-21 loss to Wales, a result that has left their Six Nations teetering on the brink of disaster after just one round.
Best, who has endured defeat on both visits to the French capital, has outlined what it will take to humble the World Cup finalists and championship favourites. The Ulster hooker said: "To win in France, for club or country, you have to go to places you didn't think were possible and come back from."
He added: "That's what we're gearing ourselves up for mentally. The key thing is that we arrive in Paris knowing what we must do to get that win."
While Ireland's commitment must be total if they are to secure a precious victory amid the sub-zero temperatures forecast for the Stade de France, retaining clear heads will also be paramount.
Previous attempts at storming the Stade de France have been undermined by kamikaze starts that have gifted Les Bleus an unassailable position.
On two occasions, in 2006 and 2008, they fought back valiantly and threatened to reel in their opponents, but ultimately had left themselves with too much ground to make up.
"We can't do our usual and go to Paris and be 20 points down after 20 minutes. We know that," said Best. "There's something about going to Paris that in the first half-hour or 20 minutes we try to play them at their own game. There are times when we've been 20 points down but finished strongly with chances to win it and you get sick of that.
"We have to go there and must not get carried away with what they're doing. It's about implementing our gameplan. We want to play a quick tempo game, but we can't let it get too loose.
"France are very dangerous in broken field play. If we can't beat them up front and deny them ball, we'll go a long way to beating them. When you watch the Top 14, they pride themselves on their forward play. We need to match and better that."