France have 'to take it up a notch' against Ireland
France team manager Raphael Ibanez said his side must take their performance "up a notch" against Ireland next week after Sunday's Six Nations win over Italy.
Les Bleus moved top of the table on points difference following the 37-10 victory over the Azzurri but had trailed after half an hour.
Next Saturday's visitors to Paris impressively beat Wales 29-7 to stay one position above fifth-placed France in the world rankings
"Is the Irish performance really a surprise when they're fourth in the table? They honoured their ranking with a quite accomplished performance," Ibanez told reporters.
"The challenge for us all, which is super exciting, is to make sure that the six days between now and Ireland are the most complete as possible.
"We know we have to take it up a notch. But with the competitive instinct that is in our squad we will all take it up a notch," he added.
Ibanez, 48, stood in for head coach Fabien Galthie with the former Test captain absent having tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
Galthie, who guided his side to successes over Argentina, Georgia and New Zealand last autumn, followed Ireland's win on Saturday, making the most of his spare time in isolation before returning to his duties next week.
"In the preparations for the match, we're almost equal because Fabien had time yesterday to do strategic work on the Irish," Ibanez said.
"In our programme we have just one big training day on Wednesday.
"But what will count is our state of mind, the collective and communal drive and the players who built their victories in November with a lot of panache," he added.
- 'Big fight' -
Ibanez's outfit conceded a weekend-leading 14 penalties against the Azzurri and made the same amount of handling mistakes as they struggled to gain control of the tie early on in greasy conditions.
"What we have to put right are the repeated errors," full-back Melvyn Jaminet said.
"Against Ireland we have to succeed in keeping the ball like we did against the All Blacks.
"We also have to keep the intensity for 80 minutes, we know it's going to be vital," he added.
Next weekend, Les Bleus are set to face a fierce Ireland loose forward trio of potentially Caelan Doris, Jack Conan and Josh van der Flier.
Openside flanker der Flier made 11 carries and 16 tackles against Wales.
"We know that Ireland have a big back-row. We, in that sector, we try and perform too," France flanker Anthony Jelonch said.
"We're expected a big fight from the Irish back-row.
"Physically it will be very difficult but it will be for us to take them on and win our match within the match," he added.