France will hunt down Jonathan Sexton to stop Ireland in their World Cup group decider on Sunday, said France prop Eddy Ben Arous.
Sexton, who has guided the Irish to two successive wins over France in the Six Nations, has said he expected to be the target of French attention. The French players confirming their plan of attack on Wednesday.
“I know that he is slow in getting rid of the ball, I am going to try and put the maximum pressure on him,” said Ben Arous.
A lot more than bragging rights is up for grabs on Sunday in Cardiff. The winner will probably avoid champions New Zealand in the quarter-finals — the Pool D winners will still have a tough last eight match-up with almost certainly Argentina.
Ben Arous, who played with Sexton at French Top 14 side Racing92, said he would go after the 30-year-old Irishman at every opportunity.
“I am going to hunt him down as often as possible.
“We are going to go after him 200 percent because he is the strong man of this team.”
France fullback Brice Dulin, who also played with Sexton at Racing92, said Sexton he would have to be watched all the time so as to pre-empt any move he might be about to launch.
“It is imperative to go after him, to tire him so that he finds it tough to make the calls,” said Dulin, who has found it difficult to dislodge Scott Spedding from the fullback spot and found himself on the wing against Canada last time out.
“He has a certain manner of playing for Ireland. He loves to be in the vanguard in order to build the attacks, and behind, he is capable of taking the pressure off at any moment.
“It is of the greatest importance to be able to read him in his attitude, his positioning, to anticipate what he is going to put into motion.”
Another of the Racing92 band centre Alexandre Dumoulin did issue a note of caution with regard to hounding Sexton, who was not the most popular man at the big-spending under-achieving Top 14 club regularly bawling out team-mates for making mistakes.
“We know that like all other countries, if a N.10 is compelled to tackle a lot, he will be tired and therefore a little less lucid in the decisions he takes during the match,” said Dumoulin.
“To target him might be a solution but not the only one to beat this Ireland side.”