Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara says the first 20 minutes against France this weekend will make-or-break their chances of ending their RBS 6 Nations winless run in Paris.
The Irish have achieved just one Championship win on French soil – a 27-25 win in 2000 – since the inception of the Six Nations.
But Grand Slam champions Ireland are full of confidence after an unbeaten 2009 and making a steady, if unspectacular, start in the 29-11 defeat of Italy.
And O’Gara, who did not miss a kick in his 16-point haul against the Azzurri, knows winning in the Stade de France is Ireland’s next stage in proving themselves as a world force.
O’Gara said: “From the national point of view it’s been a long time – it’s been too long. We’d be keen to address that this weekend.
“I think we’ve always given them too much of a head start on the games over there.
“They’re a formidable team when you let them play their game and they’re on the front foot.
“Usually we’re 20 or 30 points down and I don’t know is it them giving up or tiring a small bit but we usually get back into it, but it’s always too late.
“So a good start will be imperative this weekend. That’s exactly what we’re concentrating on – the first 20.