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The Ireland team we want to see take on France

Ireland will be hoping they can beat France for the first time under Andy Farrell when the two sides meet at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Farrell couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the Six Nations as Ireland dismantled Wales in Cardiff and currently occupy top spot in the table thanks to the bonus point win.

France weren’t at their best against Italy but Les Bleus did ultimately come away with a bonus point win themselves, although Fabien Galthie will be well aware that his side will need to be much better in Dublin.

It would be foolish to make many changes after such a good performance against Wales, although extra bulk in the pack will certainly be helpful against a sizeable French forward unit.

Front row.

Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Finlay Bealham.

Porter’s discipline left a lot to be desired against Wales as he conceded six penalties at the Principality Stadium, although he was excellent as always in open play and make a superb try saving tackle.

Rónan Kelleher is set to be fit to play this weekend, but Sheehan has established himself as his country’s first-choice hooker after a sensational start to his international career.

As Tadhg Furlong will miss out against France Bealham is the obvious choice, and despite the Wexford man’s talents the Connacht prop is a good replacement.

Second row.

Tadhg Beirne and James Ryan.

Beirne came off earlier than he usually does against Wales, presumably to make sure he is fresh for the France encounter as he is a key player for Ireland.

Ryan has rediscovered his best form as of late and looks set to hold off Iain Henderson for another week after a stellar showing in Cardiff.

Back row.

Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Gavin Coombes.

Just beaten by Hugo Keenan to the man of the match award last weekend, Doris is currently one of the best back row forwards on the planet and has plenty of time to improve even further.

Another man in the form of his life, Van der Flier is indispensable to Ireland despite the considerable amount of talent competing for places in the back row.

France boast one of the biggest packs in international rugby, and while Coombes is inexperienced he has physicality in spades and has been getting through an astonishing amount of work for Munster recently.


Half backs.

Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton.

It’s been a difficult season for Murray, as he has found himself slipping down the pecking order for Munster, although he was excellent against Wales and deserves to start again in Jamison Gibson-Park’s absence.

Sexton looked as sharp as ever against Wales despite coming off a month-long injury lay-off, and he will be very eager to face France after missing the two previous encounters in 2022 and 2021 due to injury.



Stuart McCloskey and Garry Ringrose.

There isn’t much between McCloskey and Bundee Aki at the moment, although the Ulsterman didn’t put a foot wrong against Wales and deserves another go against France.

Ringrose wasn’t at his absolute best against Wales although he has been in the form of his life recently and is the obvious choice to start for Ireland against France at outside centre.

Back three.

James Lowe, Mack Hansen and Hugo Keenan.

Lowe hadn’t played any rugby since December before starting against Wales, and he more than justified his inclusion as he superb in attack, particularly in the first half.

Hansen didn’t see as much of the ball as he would have liked against Wales although he was very solid in defence and has the necessary size to deal with the French.

France like to kick the ball a lot and after Keenan’s imperious performance in the air against Wales there is simply no good reason why he shouldn’t start again.

Hugo Keenan


Rónan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Tom O’Toole, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Craig Casey, Ross Byrne and Bundee Aki.

A powerful bench is required to hold off the French late on, and the likes of Kelleher, Kilcoyne, Henderson, Conan and Aki certainly provide that in spades.

Rob Herring never puts in a bad performance, although if Kellher is fit then he should get a go to prove what he can do off the bench.

Peter O’Mahony may be unlucky to miss out, although he didn’t get through as much work as his fellow forwards against Wales, while Conan provides more bulk than the Munster stalwart.

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