Of all the milestones reached by this Irish team in the last two seasons, the one they've yet to pass is what faces them this Saturday.

In three meetings with France during Andy Farrell's reign, all three have ended in defeat.

It's four years since the last Irish win against Les Bleus, a 26-14 win in the penultimate round of the 2019 championship, against a French side that looked to have finally bottomed out after years of decline.

Since Fabien Galthie's arrival after that year's Rugby World Cup, France have cleared out the deadwood and transformed themselves into one of, if not the best team in the world. And while Ireland hold top spot in the world rankings, the head-to-head record between the sides arguably tips the scale in French favour.

Prior to this Six Nations, this Saturday's meeting of Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium was tipped as a potential title and Grand Slam decider, although that title seems a little premature now, after Scotland's determined and professional win against England.

Whether or not it's an early title decider is irrelevant though. On paper this is the game of the championship.

While France have won all three meetings between the sides, none have been easy wins; an eight-point victory in 2020 was followed a few months later by a two-point win on Valentines Day in 2021, before last season's 30-24 thriller in Paris.

And if Ireland are to arrest that run of defeats to the French this week, the head coach (below) says they have to play the game on their own terms.

"Being ourselves is the main thing, I think. Just playing our game," he said of how Ireland will approach this week's game.

When the sides met in Round 2 last year, Ireland looked ratted at times in the opening half, conceding a try to Antoine Dupont after just 67 seconds, while they found themselves 22-7 behind early in the second half.

And while tries for Josh van der Flier and Jamison Gibson-Park brought them back within one point of France, the hosts had another gear left to hold on and win, going on to seal a Grand Slam.

"I thought we didn't attack the game like I know we can do in the first 15, 20 minutes of the game," Farrell added, as he looked back on the defeat in Paris a year ago.

"We got ourselves back into the game and had a chance of winning, so being ourselves form the start would help."

The IRFU will issue a squad update this afternoon (Monday), ahead of Saturday's meeting with the defending champions, with the main concerns surrounding Tadhg Furlong, Jamison Gibson-Park and Cian Healy.

Furlong missed out on Saturday's opening win against Wales in Cardiff, having failed to recover from a calf injury in time, although Farrell appeared hopeful the tighthead would be fit to face France, while Furlong also trained with the squad in Friday's captain's run at the Principality Stadium.

Gibson-Park and Healy both withdrew from the matchday squad to face Wales on the morning of the game, and were assessed by the team's medical staff on Sunday.

Johnny Sexton (below) "should be fine" after picking up a dead leg in Saturday's win, according to Farrell, while the captain passed a HIA following the incident which saw Liam Williams yellow-carded for a high tackle in the final quarter in Cardiff.

Farrell had been speaking after Saturday's 34-10 win at the Principality Stadium, and as such wasn't to know they would be given such a big scare in their 29-24 win against Italy in Rome on Sunday.

But the Ireland boss believes his side have plenty of improvements to make when they review their own performance.

"Obviously the discipline. Why was it so good in the first-half, why was it so clinical? I thought at times what normally happens in and around that, is that we get a little too desperate. I'm sure that they [Wales] would say the same as well.

"Our attack got a little bit lateral at times. We tried to play things that weren’t on. It was good at times. Our defence was asked big questions from time to time and in the first-half they made a bit of inward ground on us there but I thought our goalline defence was outstanding.

"Our breakdown work was outstanding and getting us a load of penalties as far as them falling on the wrong side in the first half but then they was coming barging through time after time.

"A lot of good and a lot of improvement to do as well in most areas as you would expect. I thought our scrum was pretty aggressive in the first half, and we know what threat they can be. Getting the consistency of our performance is key for next week," he added.

Watch live coverage of Ireland v France (Saturday 2.15pm) on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, follow our live blog on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the RTÉ News app, or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.

Watch live coverage of England v Italy (Sunday, 3pm) on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.