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Six Nations: Defence is main point of attack for Kiss

By Niall Crozier

Ireland believe they can exploit French defensive frailties in tomorrow’s season-defining Six Nations showdown at the Aviva Stadium (3pm).

In what is a must-win game against rivals who have beaten them in eight of their past nine meetings, ironically it was Ireland's defensive coach who last night spoke about attacking.

Les Kiss’s target? The leaky French defence.

With France having conceded 11 tries in their past two outings — seven to Australia in late November and three to Scotland last Saturday — Kiss, who normally majors in organising Irish players to protect their line, has pinpointed Les Blues' rearguard shortcomings.

“There are some areas of concern for them in terms of their defence,” Kiss said.

The bookmakers do not share his view. France are quoted as 4/6 to maintain their winning run against Ireland who were available at 6/5 last night.

But the real gambler at this stage is Irish coach Declan Kidney who has re-selected all but one of those who started against Italy in Rome last Saturday when they eked out a 13-11 win. Jamie Heaslip is fit again after his ankle injury so he resumes at No 8, with last weekend’s incumbent Sean O’Brien switching to the blindside, Denis Leamy dropping to the bench and Shane Jennings omitted.

With Ireland having failed to impress a week ago, entrusting the team responsible for that poor display with upstaging last season’s Grand Slam winners is a risk.

Kidney believes it is one he must take. “Sometimes you need to back your players and that’s what I’m doing.

“The co-ordination that comes with playing together takes a little bit of time to bed in and that is why we have gone with by and large the same team,” he said.

Victory would make it two out of two for the Irish, with trips to Scotland and Wales followed by a home date with England still to come.

Defeat, though, would torpedo any hopes of a repetition of the 2009 Grand Slam and leave the prospects an outright title win remote. High stakes in a World Cup year.

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