Johnny Sexton hopes Ireland can get into the habit of winning in Paris ahead of next year’s World Cup by securing pole position for Guinness Six Nations glory.
Captain Sexton takes his country to France on Saturday night knowing that the winners will quickly be installed as favorites for the league title.
The Irish are set to return to the Stade de France for up to five matches in 2023 in their quest to become world champions, including group matches against South Africa and Scotland.
“We’re playing against one of the fittest teams in the world,” Sexton said. “We are obviously in good shape as well.
“It is of course very publicized and if we can win at the Stade de France, it puts you in a good position to win the championship.
“I’ve won there many times over the years – in 2014 we lifted the (Six Nations) trophy there and in 2018 we started the Grand Slam year in that game – so if you win there – low, it gives you a great chance to compete for the championship.
“We don’t hide from that – it’s a big game.
“In 18 months, we will have two group matches in the World Cup (at the Stade de France). It would be nice to have fond memories of this place.”
Ireland kicked off their campaign with a comprehensive 29-7 victory over Wales, while France overcame a slow start to beat Italy 37-10.
Sexton was central to Andy Farrell’s men’s opening success, which extended the team’s winning streak to nine games.
The opener, who played for the Parisian club Racing 92 between 2013 and 2015, has often made the headlines as meetings with the Blues approach.
This week, former France coach Philippe Saint-André claimed in an interview with a French newspaper that Ireland were “perhaps better off” without the 36-year-old.
Sexton, who is set to win his 103rd Irish cap this weekend, dismissed the negative comments and plans to let his performances do the talking.
“I’m pretty used to it, at this point,” he said.
“This week of the season, France, whether at home or away, there is always something going on, one way or the other. Whether inside the camp or outside the camp.
“The (comments) you refer to are obviously outside the camp, but you can’t control what people say. You have to try to speak on the pitch.
“It’s nothing new to me, with this fixture, to have things thrown at me that you wouldn’t expect.”