2024 Six Nations – France v Ireland
Date: Friday, 2 February Location: Stade Velodrome, Marseille Start: 20:00 GMT
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The confidence Ireland had before their Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to New Zealand has not gone, insists scrum coach John Fogarty.
Before the defeat there, the Irish had won 17 matches in a row and won the Six Nations Grand Slam last year.
But as they prepare to begin their Six Nations defense against France, Fogarty says his confidence has not been affected by another painful World Cup exit.
“I don’t think that belief has gone away,” he said.
“That belief is 100% in this team. You can see it in the small meetings, in the unit meetings, the way the players treat each other.
“They’re planning to do it now. The lessons we’re going to take are very important. The game [against New Zealand] A good margin, a small margin, it’s been said, it’s not true.”
Fogarty, who said Ireland had no new injuries ahead of the game in France, added: “There was a small margin, we have to make sure we are on the right side of them.
“What an opportunity now for this team. Andy [Farrell] he says ‘go make it happen’. There are a lot of beliefs in this group, it’s clear and it’s going to be difficult.
“A big crowd, France at home in Marseille, it’s very exciting.”
Ireland enter a new season with Peter O’Mahony as captain following Johnny Sexton’s retirement after the World Cup.
Although the defeat to the All Blacks was devastating to the Irish side, Fogarty insists there is no reason to change their mind as they try to become the first side to win back-to-back Grand Slams in the Six Nations era.
“For us, it builds on what we’ve done in the last few months and the last few years,” added Fogarty, who was speaking from Ireland’s training camp ahead of the race at Portugal’s Quinta do Lago.
“You can call it what you want, that’s what we’re focusing on.
“We’ve got a good job that we’ve done, we’ve got some great talent that’s been built into the club, and there’s been tough days over the last few years, and there’s a resilience built into the club.
“We’re going to build on what we’ve done, and it’s great to have our first game.
“What an opportunity to go and show what we can add a little, if not more, to Marseille with a crowd full of world champions like France.
“It’s a great opportunity in front of us, we have to go and make it happen, we’ll make it ourselves.”
‘The crowd is before you’
Ireland face France at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille as Stade de France face off in Paris ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games.
And although the Irish have avoided a potentially painful return to Paris, Robbie Henshaw admits the Stade Velodrome – which hosted last year’s World Cup quarter-finals – can be “dangerous” for visiting players.
“It’s a great stadium,” said the 30-year-old centre-back, who played in Leinster’s Champions Cup final against La Rochelle at the Marseille venue in 2022.
“Unlike playing at the Stade de France, it’s a strong stadium. It’s obviously a football stadium and a lot of people are right in front of you.
“It can be scary at times when the crowd goes up so we realized that playing in Leinster a few seasons ago and it was different.”
Three-cap British Lion Henshaw missed Ireland’s thrilling win over France in Dublin last year through injury.
He is one of four players – along with Garry Ringrose, Stuart McCloskey and Bundee Aki – to compete for two starting midfield positions in the Irish team for Friday’s game.
“It’s great to have competition as players,” Henshaw said.
“That’s what drives you to keep trying to do the best in yourself and the team. For me, it’s just doing my best in training and being confident that what I’ve done in the last 12 months with Leinster has put me ahead. Hands up.
“I’m feeling good and I’m confident. All the guys are competing for the middle jerseys so that’s going to improve our performance.”