Ireland lock Malcolm O'Kelly said his side must keep things tight at the back against France on Saturday.
Malcolm O'Kelly says Paul O'Connell will be a good Irish captain
The French beat Ireland in last year's World Cup quarter-final and O'Kelly said: "We need to be more focused and concentrate on our defence.
"We gave away some soft scores early on and you can't afford to give the French opportunities to win the game before half-time, especially in Paris.
"We need to stay with them and let them lose the game themselves."
Paul O'Connell's appointment as Ireland captain in place of the injured Brian O'Driscoll has been applauded by O'Kelly.
"Paul very much deserves the position," he said. "He's held in very high regard by all the players and has their total respect because of the way he plays.
"He's been given a great opportunity to lead the team and I will help him in every way as his second row partner.
"There was a feeling during the World Cup he could go all the way."