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Comment: Ireland fans must realise how pivotal a role they have against France at Aviva

Unsatisfactory start: Rory Best leads his side off after the
disappointing display against England at the Aviva Stadium
Unsatisfactory start: Rory Best leads his side off after the disappointing display against England at the Aviva Stadium

By Neil Francis

Is this a Kennedy moment? "Ask not what your country can do for you..." Ireland are struggling; they need as much help as they can get from any corner. I feel the crowd have a huge part to play against France on Sunday.

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When the team is humming, the crowd come to watch. When the team is struggling, the crowd should come to cheer.

One of the most unsettling things about the opening loss to England was how a few thousand of their fans managed to out-cheer a confident and expectant full house.

The Irish crowd booed the constant Swing Lows that erupted in the continuous moments of English ascendancy but could barely muster some solid timbre in any chorus throughout the game.

There is the possibility of a bad run up until and possibly including the World Cup - how much would that cost the IRFU financially? Get out of the group and get past the quarters and the financial rewards are significant. So maybe this match might be worth a fresh approach.

It will be Joe Schmidt's last competitive home match in charge of Ireland.

Would it not be an idea to raise the roof on Sunday in appreciation for what they have done over the last few years? It is not as if they are not trying, they need a lift. A buzzy, noisy atmospheric Aviva that rows in behind their team from the off would be a considerable help.

How much would it cost the IRFU to turn off the beer taps in the stadium half an hour before the teams are due out?

When England came out onto the pitch a few weeks ago, the stadium was between one third and half full.

It is perceptible that an element of complacency has entered into the minds of the patrons of these matches.

Everyone was in their seats and ready to go when the All Blacks came to town last November. Nobody wanted to miss the Haka and so the refreshments were gulped down quickly.

This was England at the Aviva - where was the noise and the energy from the crowd? Where were the noisy fans from Twickenham last year?

This is a moment of asking. This French team don't really know whether they have rediscovered their confidence or not. A huge roar when France make a mistake or when Ireland go at them will reinforce the notion that maybe the easy home win over Scotland was a figment of their imagination.

Speaking of beer, the squad apparently had a knees-up when they were in Belfast last week. A good city for a few beers.

You almost get the impression that it was organised fun as opposed to some of the sessions that happened in the amateur days.

If it had a galvanising effect and it helps the team recapture their verve, then organised or spontaneous it will have been worth it.

There will be a number of notable absentees when the team is announced. Sean O'Brien and Sean Cronin have been axed.

Both had below-par performances in Rome. The problem here is that both will need to be in Japan. Niall Scannell and Rob Herring are probably better lineout throwers but there is no substitute for pace and dynamism, and Cronin will probably play his way back into the equation if Leinster have a good run in the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup.

As for O'Brien, graveyards are full of indispensable men - maybe we need a demonstration of why he is considered so.

Meanwhile, in breaking news, the Nobel Foundation has announced that in addition to awarding a prize for outstanding contributions to humanity in the fields of Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics and Medicine, they will now add lineout calling to that list.

When Ireland won all 11 of their lineouts in Murrayfield, Quinn Roux, without actually winning one single ball, got effusive praise for calling the lineouts by people who have never stood in one in their lives.

Roux this time managed to win one ball in Rome in a very poor lineout performance by the team. It is only when you compare and contrast his performance with that of Ultan Dillane that you realise what a farce this whole thing has been.

Iain Henderson and James Ryan should be the starting second-row named with Tadhg Beirne on the bench. The hope here is that the two complement each other and form a dynamic partnership.

The French have a strong and competitive lineout and there is no question that Ireland will leak a few.

I have no chance of winning a Nobel Prize, but if I was Julien Bonnaire (French forwards coach) I would do a lot of thinking about how to stop Peter O'Mahony.

Ireland have thrown the majority of their ball to the Munster man but it doesn't matter because he invariably wins it and has great hands.

It doesn't take a genius to know that it is profitable to use him.

Bonnaire will have Wencelas Lauret prepared for a scrap of the sixes in the air. Ireland's locks will have to front up if O'Mahony is pressurised.

Ireland can pick a close to full strength side and with a little bit of encouragement you would back them to win.

France are a powerful side and there will be a premium for stopping them on the gain line.

Do that and string some phases together without mistake and Ireland will win, hopefully with a noisy crowd.

Ireland squad

Ireland training squad: Forwards: R Best (Ulster, capt), T Beirne (Munster), J Conan (Leinster), U Dillane (Connacht), T Furlong, C Healy (both Leinster), I Henderson, R Herring (both Ulster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), J McGrath (Leinster), J Murphy (Ulster), S O'Brien (Leinster), P O'Mahony (Munster), A Porter (Leinster), Q Roux (Connacht), R Ruddock, James Ryan (both Leinster), John Ryan, N Scannell, CJ Stander (all Munster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster).

Backs: B Aki (Connacht), R Byrne (Leinster), J Carbery (Munster), J Carty (Connacht), A Conway, J Cooney, K Earls, C Farrell (all Munster), T Farrell (Connacht), R Kearney, J Larmour (both Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), C Murray (Munster), G Ringrose, J Sexton (both Leinster), J Stockdale (Ulster).

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