Six Nations 2020: Jacob Stockdale says Ireland respect but do not fear France

Ireland rugby
Ireland hold a one point lead at the top of the Six Nations table going into the final round of matches
Guinness Six Nations: France v Ireland
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Saturday, 31 October Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Two then BBC One with commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio Ulster and BBC Sounds plus live text on BBC Sport website and app.

Jacob Stockdale says Ireland do not fear France as they prepare to travel to Paris for a potential Six Nations title decider on Saturday.

France have been in formidable form at home this year, starting the tournament with a statement win over England and comfortably beating reigning Grand Slam champions Wales in a warm-up match at the Stade de France last weekend.

Ireland, who hold a one point lead at the top of the table going into the final round of fixtures, have won the last three meetings between the sides.

"We definitely respect them and we respect the ability with which they can play," said Stockdale, who will make his 30th international appearance on Saturday.

"But at the same time we've had a number of good performances against France over the last few years and we've probably got a good return out of them."

Stockdale's first Six Nations game was in Paris two years ago, when Ireland began their Grand Slam campaign with a dramatic win courtesy of Johnny Sexton's last-gasp drop-goal.

Before this year's tournament was suspended in March, France had emerged as frontrunners for the title with three wins from three including a home success over England and a narrow victory over Wales in Cardiff.

However defeat by Scotland in the final game before the competition's postponement ended Fabien Galthie's side's hopes of a first Grand Slam in 10 years.

Despite the defeat they remain firmly in contention for the title, sitting one point behind Ireland alongside England, who meet Italy in Rome earlier on Saturday.

"We are quite confident when it comes to playing them as a team but they're also in very good form at the moment," said Stockdale.

"They obviously beat Wales well there and they're a different team to what they were in the past."

'Things to tidy up but overall pretty happy' with full-back debut

Ulster's Stockdale will again start at full-back having made his first international appearance there in last weekend's win over Italy.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a number of positive moments and displayed some of the counter-attacking prowess that head coach Andy Farrell believes he will bring to the position, but was also highlighted for a few mistakes, including his role Paolo Garbisi's last-minute try.

Jacob Stockdale
Stockdale provided a consistent counter-attacking threat against Italy

"I think that was something that honestly looking back I was a bit frustrated with," Stockdale admitted.

"In those positions it's a tricky one obviously because I can see a two-on-one coming at me and I'm trying to make a play pretty much, but in hindsight that's probably an experience thing where I haven't been in that position that many times and it's probably a better decision to try and rush Garbisi and make him make that pass.

"It's my first game in that position and there's going to be things to tidy up.

"I think my backfield coverage could be a bit better and probably making the right decision when I'm kicking a few times, but outside of that I'm pretty pleased with it.

"There's a few things that maybe I noticed, that maybe the general public don't notice, that I want to work on but overall pretty happy with it."

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