Ireland assistant coach Niamh Briggs says this Saturday's TikTok Six Nations trip to France is a "free shot" for the Irish players.

Greg McWilliams' side will be considerable underdogs for Saturday's game at Stade Ernest Wallon (live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player), having lost their home opener against Wales, while France easily dismantled Italy 39-6.

The French look like being England's closest challengers for the title, and a considerable step up from the Welsh, who physically dominated Ireland despite not taking the lead until six minutes from time.

Ireland have never won away in France during the Women's Six Nations, but have come close on a number of occasions, notably in 2012 and 2014 when they lost one-score games.

Current assistant coach Briggs played in both of those defeats, and says the current side need to treat Saturday's game in Toulouse as a learning experience in what is a season of transition.

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"I think [getting] the result is the big thing, I've played in France lots of times and we've performed, but just not had the belief to get over the line. It's always been about fine margins," she said.

"This group are under no illusions. The French are so good at coming out to support rugby, I'm sure there will be a massive crowd in Toulouse.

"It's a difficult place to go, but this is a free shot, we have to go and enjoy the experience and occasion.

"This will be the first time we'll have played in a stadium like this with a huge crowd, and they're always really noise. Our message to the players will be to enjoy it, soak it in and learn as much as you can.

Lucy Mulhall [below] is the only injury concern for the trip to France, with the wing going through the return to play protocols for a head injury she suffered against Wales.

It's likely Beibhinn Parsons will come back into the starting team this week though, with the 20-year-old making her return from injury off the bench in Saturday's defeat.

However, even with a fully-fit Parsons, Ireland are likely to be facing off against another physically dominant opponent.

And Briggs says Ireland have to find ways around their size disadvantage.

"That was definitely something that came out after the game, the power of Wales. It wasn't so much their power, but the experience they had to be able to understand that they were on top.

"To be fair to our lineout coach Dave Gannon, he's one of the biggest rugby nerds I've ever met, he's honed in on that maul defence, making sure we're very much across our detail.

"It's not a naive thing to say, but we have to continue to focus on ourselves, we know the likes of France and England will be hugely powerful, and that's what they base their game off. We have to concentrate on moving teams around.

"Albeit they were powerful towards the end, we still had 93% tackle rate for us, and we have to keep improving on that."

In recent weeks, both Briggs and head coach Greg McWilliams have been keen to stress how Ireland are starting from a low base, with multiple retirements in the last year meaning the current squad is largely inexperienced.

Nine of last week's starting lineup had fewer than 10 Test caps to their name, while Eimear Considine was the most experienced of the bunch, making her 24th international appearance.

"I think we have to be aware of where we are as a group, in terms of the development, and that we're such a new squad," Briggs added.

"There were so many positives, that was my feeling after the game, and it hasn't changed in the 15 times I've seen it. There are definitely areas to improve on, the penalty count of 14:5 is something we can't have going forward, and also our ability to manage the game a bit more.

"That was a big task for so many of those players. We know they aren't experienced and those who have been capped before, it was the first time they'd played for Ireland in front of a crowd. That was a really big thing for them.

"It's hugely important, we have to reward players with confidence, which will be huge for us in the next few weeks. We're very understanding of our development, it's a new squad, a new environment, and we have to drive that through.

"It's been hugely enjoyable to be around the last few weeks. We got a huge buzz out of it and that translated onto the pitch. We just have to understand that in Test rugby, small mistakes will be punished."

Watch Benetton v Connacht (Saturday 12pm), France v Ireland (Saturday 2.15pm) and Munster v Leinster (Saturday 7pm) live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player (also live on RTÉ Radio 1).