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Joe Schmidt Makes Big Calls In Ireland Team To Face France

Ireland have announced their matchday 23 to take on France at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday. 

With Jacques Brunel naming his side this morning, which includes six uncapped players, two starting and four on the bench, Joe Schmidt has had the luxury of naming a much more experienced side.

In the front row, captain Rory Best partners Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong. As reported this week, James Ryan partners Iain Henderson in the second-row and Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier and CJ Stander make up the back-row.

Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton resume their familiar half-back partnership where they will take on Maxime Machenaud and 19-year-old debutant, Matthieu Jalibert.

Schmidt has named a centre partnership of Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw while Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale take up their positions on the wings. Rob Kearney starts at full-back as expected.

Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Co. Kildare 30/1/2018 Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Meanwhile, there are some big calls on the bench. Luke McGrath gets the nod ahead of Kieran Marmion as deputy scrum-half, Joey Carbery is the back-up out-half despite limited game-time in the position, while Fergus McFadden covers the backline, despite many speculating that Andrew Conway would fill the 23 jersey. Conway has been ruled out for the next two weeks with an inflamed knee injury.

Ireland Team: Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Cian Healy, Rory Best (C), Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, John Ryan, Devin Toner, Dan Leavy, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Fergus McFadden.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email seanmc@punditarena.com or on Twitter