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Boost for France ahead of Ireland clash

SPOTLIGHT: France lock Cameron Woki said head coach Fabien Galthie has the squad “right into” preparation for Ireland’s trip to Paris in the Six Nations this weekend after returning to the set-up.

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Galthie, 52, had been in isolation since last Wednesday after testing positive for coronavirus and coached the side through a telephone link from the team hotel 40km away during Sunday’s victory over Italy in their first fixture of the tournament.

“Fabien is good, he feels better. He’s come back with us and has moved straight on towards our preparation to face Ireland,” Woki told reporters.

“Even if he didn’t really leave us against Italy, he was always present with us.

“Now, he’s physically present with us. He’s certainly got us right into things with preparation for Ireland,” he added.

Les Bleus top the table on points difference following the success over Italy after Ireland had impressively beaten Wales 24 hours earlier and have lost just once at home since Galthie took over after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

This weekend’s visitors to Paris are unbeaten in nine games, which is a run including overcoming New Zealand in November, since France’s win in Dublin last February.

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“I don’t think we’re favourites,” flyhalf Romain Ntamack said.

“The Irish fully deserve that status, they’ve shown it since a long time. They had a great November series, they had a super match against the Welsh,” he added.

Galthie will be missing centre Jonathan Danty for the match at the Stade de France after he suffered an ankle injury.

Racing 92’s Virimi Vakatawa and Bordeaux-Begles’ inexperienced Yoram Moefana are the contenders to replace Danty in the starting line-up.

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“Jo was an important part of our team. We’re quite disappointed for him because he’s been in good form for a good few matches, he did us good,” Ntamack said.

“There will be players who replace him and they will do well. We have to adapt to his absence. We’ll find the solutions without Jo this weekend,” he added.

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