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Conor Murray says matching up with the best scrum-half in the world adds an extra edge to this weekend's Six Nations clash with France. 

Antoine Dupont is in the form of his life heading into Sunday's game at the Aviva Stadium. The Frenchman has usurped Murray as the Northern Hemisphere's standout no.9.

And as Ireland seek their first win of this season's competition - against the tournament's form team - Murray has warned about focusing all of their attentions on the playmaking ability of Dupont.

"Yeah, he's flying it," Murray said of his opposite number's form, "He had a massive game last weekend against Italy and we can't afford to give him that space.

"And I suppose defending a 9 that's in form like that - if you concentrate solely on him, it brings other players into the game.

"We know we've a huge task this weekend against a really good French side.

"We've been hear before, we've played teams with threats all over the park - which France do - at out-half, with guys like Teddy Thomas on the wing with genuine pace. They can hurt you from anywhere.

"With that amount of threats, we've really got to focus on ourselves in defence. Focus on what we can do, the speed of ball they get, how solid we are around the ruck - things like that that we need to focus on and look at ourselves first.

"And then obviously have an awareness of the threats that they do have in Dupont and [Matthieu] Jallibert. And if we get our stuff right then looking after them becomes an awful lot easier.

"It's a huge task. We've been here before. We put in a performance this weekend - and hopefully the result goes our way - the conversation [then] has a completely different tone to it.

"The training we had there today was really really good. Players weren't feeling sorry for themselves at all.

"I think that has to do with how promising we felt in Cardiff. Lads are enjoying their work and hopefully we'll see that on Sunday."

Despite opening the campaign with a defeat away to Wales, Murray feels there are plenty of positives to be taken from how Ireland set about their task in Cardiff.

"After a loss like that, in a game where you felt on top of things," Murray said, "And you felt that you had the Welsh side under pressure - I thought we played quite well.

"You don't deserve anything in international rugby, but we did a lot of good things in that game.

"But when you lose a game like that there probably is a danger that lads are thinking 'the one that got away.... now things look really difficult for ourselves' but maybe it's we've players that have had those type of experiences before know that sulking, or feeling sorry for yourself, moping around the hotel isn't going to fix things for France.

"So I think lads have just shook (sic) it off, [and] remained positive. Because there are positives to take from Cardiff - a lot of work-ons too - but definitely a lot of positives.

"You can see it in their body language, the way we trained out there today, people are buzzing.

"This is a huge game for us, there's no hiding now after losing our first game. I think the lads know that and are hungry to face up to the challenge."

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Antoine Dupont Conor Murray France Ireland Six Nations Wales

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