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Irish match will tell us if we have turned the page: Guirado

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Dublin (AFP)

France will learn a lot about whether their win against Scotland was a turning point when they play the defending Six Nations champions Ireland on Sunday, said captain Guilhem Guirado.

The 32-year-old hooker -- who along with his team-mates gained a much-needed morale boosting 27-10 win over Scotland a fortnight ago after being hammered by England -- said it is a new chapter in this France side's history.

They face an Ireland team that despite away wins over the Scots and Italy have been a pale shadow of the one that secured the Grand Slam last year and beat New Zealand in November for an historic home Test win over the world champions.

Guirado, though, is circumspect about how far Ireland's star has descended preferring to focus on his side.

"We were a lot better against Scotland and I particularly liked how we maintained our strength of character," said Guirado at his eve of match press conference at Lansdowne Road.

"We also looked for the bonus point and the spirit of the squad impressed me we were very tight-knit.

"The qualities and the values of the players were evident.

"However, it is a new chapter tomorrow to discover how we perform against one of the best teams in the world."

Guirado, who cut a disconsolate figure last year when the Irish edged the French thanks to Johnny Sexton's last gasp drop goal, said he hoped the French will match the Irish blow for blow.

"We will try and put together some nice passing moves like we did against Scotland," said Guirado, whose side also allowed a commanding lead over Wales slip in their opening match to end up losing.

"It will be a good rugby match against a robust and rugged opponent."

- 'Learning very quickly' -

Guirado, who for the first time since Jacques Brunel took over as coach in December 2017 will lead out the same starting XV, said the young half-back pairing of scrum-half Antoine Dupont and fly-half Romain Ntamack who impressed against Scotland have earned their stripes pretty quickly.

They will face what is considered to be one of the best half-back pairings in the world in Sexton and scrum-half Conor Murray, although their under-par performances have been a feature of the tournament so far.

"They are young, but they are used to playing together," said Guirado.

"They are learning very quickly, and they are leading the game but it's obviously all the players around them that have to help them."

Veteran No 8 Louis Picamoles said the team would approach the game with a lot of humility given their recent poor Test record -- they lost to amongst others Fiji in November -- but with the chance of claiming the scalp of a very good side.

"Whether we lose or win it is how we play that is important and the spirit we play with," said the 33-year-old Picamoles.

"They are the second-ranked team in the world we are 10th and we must see whether we can put in place on the pitch what we did in training this week."

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