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Ireland will raise the bar, says Stander

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

CJ Stander says Ireland will grow into the Six Nations after needing a late Johnny Sexton drop goal to beat France in their opening game on Saturday.

Despite leading by nine points at the start of the second half, Joe Schmidt's side lost their way at the Stade de France and found themselves behind with less than 10 minutes to go.

They pulled the result out of the fire and know they will need to improve if they are to build and compete for the title.

"We will be playing more and training more together, and I think if we learn from our mistakes, hopefully there will be a step up (in performance)," Stander said. "We'll need step-ups in the small battles in the games and make sure we look after the ball a bit more and give Murr (Conor Murray) and Johnny a cleaner base.

"If you take it game by game and fix what you need to fix... there needs to be a step up. We need to push on as a team."

Josh van der Flier will play no further part in the tournament having been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a serious knee ligament injury.

Dan Leavy is expected to replace his clubmate, with Jordi Murphy and Jack Conan competing for a bench spot. Jack O'Donoghue has been called up.

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