O'Driscoll identifies Lopez as key to French hopes

He was speaking on Off the Ball on Thursday evening

O'Driscoll identifies Lopez as key to French hopes

France's Camille Lopez celebrates winning. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has identified out-half Camille Lopez as key to French hopes in Dublin on Saturday.

Speaking at the Off the Ball special in the Olympia on Thursday night, he said: "I think he [Lopez] is pulling strings pretty well. I think he's playing really flat on the line when they're going forward. The Fickou try, I think he was first receiver seven or eight times in that sequence of play so he's offering himself.

"Yeah he missed one kickable goal that he should have knocked over but I think he knocked over the rest of them. I think he has become a big player. I think that half-back partnership is exciting with Serin and they'll need to keep an eye on the two of them because Serin has the ability to pull the fences apart as well. I think he's an edgy nine - the sort of guy you'd love to have in your team.

 France's Camille Lopez kicks a penalty. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

"I think that'll be a huge contest. Obviously with Johnny back, we look like a better oiled machine. I think he is the conductor of things. Paddy Jackson has done a terrific job but he facilitates others really shining. Johnny pulls all the strings and it doesn't really matter that he hasn't had a lot of game time if he can come into the team and seamlessly fit in where he left off.

"So that's massively where the battle is going to go on - as much as it goes on in the pack - I think the half-back pairings will be really interesting this weekend," he added.

As for predictions from the panel on the night, Donnacha O'Callaghan gave Ireland a 12-point win, Keith Wood had the home side by four or five points, O'Driscoll went for a one score win for the Irish while Ronan O'Gara went for Joe Schmidt's side as well.